- Represent The Region
I regularly have meetings with Secretaries of States and Ministers. It’s a great opportunity to influence, lobby and exchange ideas. I enjoy working people out, figuring out their motive and finding that win-win which gives us both something of what we want. At the moment I’m having to work with a Tory Government which presents its challenges but I do like a challenge! Hopefully soon I’ll be working with a Labour government.
My ambition to unite the region as one North East Mayoral Combined Authority with the best deal possible has seen me lobbying and negotiating with government ministers across many departments. I’ve been making the case for more powers in relation to transport, skills, adult education and regional wealth generation mechanisms as the only way to achieve genuine levelling up. We now have a strong draft deal making it’s way toward final sign off by our Local Authority partners. This deal will result in the best per capita settlement of all the combined authorities and unlock £600 million for transport investment.
I fight hard and at every opportunity to get everything I can for our region. When I heard that the Department for Transport was thinking of dropping from two trains an hour to one on the Northumberland Line I immediately got in touch with the Rail Minister and stopped them in their tracks. I’ve also lobbied for bus funding, reversal of timetable changes to reduce our rail service to Manchester and the reopening of the Leamside Line. We need better connections into and out of our region.
Devolving funds and powers to Mayoral Combined Authorities would be quickest way for government to achieve their net zero and levelling up targets. We are efficient and know how to make things happen quickly in our local areas. It’s been too long since people listened to our region, and I’m going keep fighting our corner and using every power at my disposal to change that.