Deal or no deal?

A DOCUMENT which could see Tees Valley granted City Deal status – in a move that would help create jobs and growth – has been backed by senior councillors.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s cabinet committee has endorsed plans to submit an expression of interest to the Government from the region.

Regeneration body Tees Valley Unlimited is leading on the bid and if successful it will see a more detailed application being put together, in full consultation with all five local authorities.

The Tees Valley is one of the areas bidding for a city deal – and if successful, it will be invited to negotiate a deal with the Government allowing some powers to be devolved from Whitehall.

But in order to succeed, Tees Valley has to show how it will create growth and new jobs.

Damien Wilson, the council’s assistant director of regeneration and planning, said TVU and officials from the five councils had prepared a draft expression of interest, the deadline for it to be sent in is January 15.

Out of the 20 areas bidding, it is understood 12 will be successful and asked to make a full application which could take a further 12-months.

Exact details of the brief were not revealed at the meeting as officials said it would alert other areas to the ideas put forward by the Tees Valley.

Mr Wilson said the aim is to get through this competitive stage and then enter into much more detailed negotiations with the Government.

If it is successful then decisions around the governance and decision making process of the City Deal would have to be thrashed out.

Mr Wilson said: “Serious decisions will need to be made if the expression of interest is successful.”

Mayor Stuart Drummond said: “I think it is quite ironic that the Government got rid of all the quangos and are slowly setting them back up.

“But this is the only thing around at the moment and we need to be in it.

“If there is as much freedom and flexibility as is being hinted at then it could be quite good.”

Independent councillor Paul Thompson added: “As long as we get the best for Hartlepool and not hand everything over to another local authority.”

Mr Wilson added: “This authority needs to be entirely sure that the arrangement suits its needs and that we are represented as strongly as possible in the bid.”

In October last year the Government formally invited Tees Valley, along with a further 20 towns, cities and “functional” economic areas, to apply for a second wave City Deal.

Since then officers have been working on the draft proposal to the Government, which needs to be cut down from 13 to eight pages.

A report to the meeting said: “Some further work will be necessary to comply with this requirement while not losing the unique features that differentiates the Tees Valley bid from others together with the ambitious, bold and transformative proposal that the Government seeks.”