Teesside councils plan combined authority

From left, Ray Mallon, George Dunning, Stephen Catchpole, Bill Dixon, Bob Cook and Christopher Akers-Belcher Image copyright Keith Taylor
Image caption Tees Valley’s five local councils will consult on plans to join economic forces

Five Teesside councils have announced plans for a combined authority.

Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton and Darlington councils believe a new body could boost job-creation and investment.

Middlesbrough Labour MP Andy McDonald said it would allow the area to bid for extra money and power from government.

Critics argue the councils should, instead, join the combined authority covering the rest of the North East set up in April.

'Much greater clout'

South Tyneside council leader Iain Malcolm said one combined authority for the whole of the North East would allow the region to "speak with one voice".

"The danger for us is that we will have two combined authorities catching the train to London, knocking on the door to ministers and civil servants, when really it would have been good to have one set of people arguing strongly on behalf of the whole of the north east region," Mr Malcolm said.

Combined authorities are supported by the coalition government, which has signalled its willingness to give them extra power and responsibility.

Mr McDonald said: "This is a body that will come together with much greater clout to deal with issues of transport infrastructure, economic development and skills."

The proposed combined authority would not be a so-called "super council" as it would not run services such as refuse collection, libraries and schools and the five authorities would not merge.

Similar authorities are already running in West Yorkshire, Sheffield, Liverpool and Greater Manchester.

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