In 2016, the plans for devolution in the North East collapsed. In what was effectively a palace coup, Labour's Martin Gannon seized the leadership of Gateshead Council from Mick Henry who had been prepared to sign up to the deal. He killed off the deal and North and South of Tyne went their separate ways. 7 wasted years later, Martin is now backing the new devolution plan which is currently on the table. All 7 councils have to sign up to the plan and Gateshead's signature has already been added to the dotted line.
I described the current package as "new". In reality, it is nothing of the sort. It is the old deal dusted down. According to Martin however, it is "completely different" to the collapsed plans of 2016. He points to the forthcoming transport deal as being the big issue that makes this deal a new one. The reality is that the transport deal came along after 2016 and had we had devolution back then, we would have had the transport funding assured (the funding is based on having an elected regional mayor.) So, the deal we have now is a near carbon copy of what we could have had 7 years ago.
The only significant change during Martin's 7 wasted years is the way the mayor is elected. The government have changed elections from the supplementary vote to first past the post for all elected mayors. This applies across the whole of England so this is not a change specifically for the North East. So come on Martin, if the "new" deal" is "completely different" to the old one, tell us what these differences are.
Or shut up.......