COUNCILLORS have backed a new initiative which involves working with four other Tees Valley authorities to boost economic growth.
Hartlepool Borough Council’s Finance and Policy Committee has unanimously agreed to setting up a combined authority with its neighbours – Darlington, Middlesbrough, Stockton and Redcar & Cleveland councils.
The plan would see the councils continuing to exist in their own right to deliver local services, but unite as a formal Tees Valley Combined Authority when focusing on economic development, transport, infrastructure, employment and skills.
A report, from council chief executive Dave Stubbs, said: “Our existing governance arrangements have served us well, but we are in a fast changing world and it is essential that we build on our success.
“Our economy can only grow if we all work together, across the Tees Valley we want to be a big player, competing successfully alongside other, often much larger, sub-regions, both in the UK and internationally.
“We have a strong track-record of working together, recognised nationally, but we now have an opportunity to cement our partnership through a Combined Authority and benefit from the security of approach this would bring for us.”
It is said the new body could also unlock devolved powers and resources from the Government.
Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, leader of the council, said: “Some people have got hold of the wrong end of the stick and think that a combined authority involves bringing the five Tees Valley councils together to form one big organisation.
“I can assure everyone that this is not the case.
“It is about building on the already excellent partnership arrangements we have in place with the Tees Valley authorities to give us a stronger voice, more powers and additional finance to create jobs, boost the economy and improve infrastructure.”
The initiative has received support from local residents and has backing from business leaders such as The North East Chamber of Commerce, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the Institute of Directors. It will now go before the Full Council at a meeting at the Civic Centre, in the town’s Victoria Road, tomorrow at 7pm.