Liberal Democrat Leader of the Opposition in Gateshead, Cllr Jonathan Wallace, has described the Labour Council Cabinet’s decision to reject the proposed devolution package to the North East as “utterly mad.”
The Cabinet met today, 22nd March, for less than half an hour to discuss the package that had been negotiated by the 7 council leaders in the region with the government.
Despite months of negotiation by Gateshead Council Leader Mick Henry, his own Deputy, Martin Gannon, moved that the plans be rejected as he opposed the creation of elected mayors.
Speaking after the Cabinet meeting, Cllr Wallace said, “This decision is completely the wrong one. We have on offer from the government control over skills training, economic development, transport and planning. There is even the possibility of taking on some health powers.
“This has all been sacrificed by those in the Labour party who view elected mayors as a threat to their own establishment and control of the region. Labour have now put party interests before the people’s interests.
“Labour have not even put Gateshead into the Slow Lane. Instead they have put us in the No Lane – no extra powers, no extra investment, no hope.
“There were many smug grins on the faces of Labour cabinet members this morning after the meeting. But smug grins won’t held fill the skills gap, develop the economy or sort out our transport. Labour have set back Gateshead and the North East. It is difficult to see how the region can recover from this wholly unnecessary, Labour-inflicted wound.”