Adonis calls for metro mayor in the north east

The former transport secretary Lord Adonis this week called on government to impose a directly-elected mayor in the north east of England.

Appearing before the business, energy and industrial strategy parliamentary committee, the Labour peer said he believes the government should say ‘it expects the north east to come forward with a plan to have an elected mayor covering the metropolitan area.’

‘If that doesn’t happen, I believe the government should impose one, because it is absolutely essential there is a proper city regional leadership and planning there,’ he told MPs.

Lord Adonis, who resigned as chair of the National Infrastructure Commission last year, said there should also be a ‘case-by-case assessment’ of other areas around the country, with the government ‘determined to see that every part of the country’ has a strategic authority, responsible for economic infrastructure.

‘You have got to have really strong regional leadership to industrial planning,’ Lord Adonis told the committee.

‘I have long regarded the most important element of this being a much-stronger tier of city regional government in this country.

‘Michael Heseltine and I have spent the best part of the last 20 years campaigning hard for regionally elected mayors. They are starting to happen now.

‘Those are big steps in the right direction, but if you look at the regional mayors outside of London, the government should give them significant new powers.’

The peer admitted there is a ‘problem’ in some regions ‘where it just hasn’t been possible to get agreement on setting up a metro mayor’.

‘The classic problem in the north east at the moment is Gateshead, Newcastle and Sunderland,’ he told the committee.

‘I chaired an economic review of the north east 10 years ago, and we recommended then a combined authority for the area.’

The North East Combined Authority was established in 2014, but it was later cancelled by the communities secretary, Sajid Javid after Durham, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland councils all withdrew their support.

Lord Adonis also criticised the lack of long-term planning for transport infrastructure at the committee meeting.

‘The biggest decision I had to take in terms of procurement when I was secretary of state for transport was what we were going to do about the successor trains for the InterCity 125s,’ he said.

‘It was a huge order and we also needed to link this with the programme for electrification. It was a classic case of the state interacting with both the market and the business sector.

‘There was no strategy. None at all. The forward investment strategy for the railways went ahead precisely five years. It finished in 2014, which is part of the reason why there was no electrification strategy, because you can’t electrify in five years. And it was why we had no policy for high-speed rail, because you can’t build a high-speed line in five years, either.’


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top