Talks on city for valley

NEW plans to encourage areas to “maximise” their economic potential and stimulate growth have been discussed by senior councillors.

The Government’s City Deal aims to devolve powers to England’s biggest cities in a series of unique deals that will help them invest in growth, control budgets, create more jobs and improve infrastructure.

Eight core cities have been working to develop the detail of the deals and return they put in place more “accountable local leadership” and a commitment to spend resources more efficiently.

The idea is to free cities from central Whitehall controls and plans are now in place to widen the initiative to bigger towns and areas such as the Tees Valley, which would include Hartlepool.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s cabinet committee met to discuss initial work carried out by officers.

In a report, Damien Wilson, the council’s assistant director (regeneration and planning), said: “The Tees Valley Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) on behalf of the five Tees Valley boroughs, is in active dialogue with the Government in relation to a potential bid from the Tees Valley and is being encouraged to consider proposals.

“Without any specific guidance on what Government expect proposals to include, it is difficult to know exactly what to include and equally, it is not clear that what was approved for the eight core cities in the first wave will be acceptable for the second wave.

“For that reason, officers from the Tees Valley LEP along with officers from across the five Tees Valley local authorities, have been working in groups to explore potential areas which may interest Government and which may form the focus for any potential bid.”

The groups have covered a range of aspects including transport and infrastructure, education skills training and pooling of resources.

No date for an announcement on the second wave has been set, but they must be directly linked to unlocking economic growth and job creation.

Initiatives from other cities include a devolved transport budget for Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds and Sheffield and apprentice hubs in Bristol, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and Nottingham to boost apprenticeship numbers by supporting small and medium sized enterprises.

Mr Wilson said it was important to fully understand the implications around governance, finance and decision making before committing.

Mayor Stuart Drummond said he’d heard a rumour the Tees Valley bid would be called ‘Middlesbrough and the surrounding area’.

Mr Wilson said the Government were in favour of bids being based around a major town, but said as far as he was aware the name had not been confirmed.

Cabinet members heard it would be aimed at job creation, boosting skills and getting more young people into work.

They endorsed the work carried out so far to prepare the ground for a potential Tees Valley City Deal bid and backed further work being carried out.