North of Tyne Combined Authority holds first meeting

Image caption, The inaugural meeting was held in Morpeth

Leaders of a new North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) vowed that communities will reap benefits from the new body at its inaugural meeting.

The authority, covering Northumberland, Newcastle and North Tyneside, made a number of pledges at its launch.

These included tackling unemployment in Newcastle, redevelopment of North Shields' Fish Quay, and a project to improve children's maths skills.

It also hopes to resurrect the disused Newcastle to Northumberland rail line.

Leaders agreed to fund a feasibility study which would provide the government with "irrefutable evidence" of the value of the major transport project, the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) said.

'Bumpy journey'

Plans for a devolution deal which also involved Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland, and Durham collapsed in 2016, before Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland councils broke away to form their own body.

North Tyneside mayor Norma Redfearn, who is temporarily chairing the NTCA, said the devolution process had been "extremely frustrating" but she was "elated" to see the new authority making its first decisions.

Councillor Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, said: "It has been a long, bumpy journey to get here, but I am absolutely delighted that this is happening today."

Northumberland County Council's leader, Peter Jackson, said the region was "at the start of a new revolution" and must reclaim the standing it held during the industrial revolution.

An interim mayor will be appointed in December, ahead of a vote for a directly-elected mayor in May.

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