Newcastle – Regional Devolution

13 February 2024 , categories: Meetings, Newcastle

On 2nd May voters in the North East will go to the polls to elect a Mayor as part of a £1.4bn devolution deal. Will this mean more power to the people and better local investment?

Greater democracy or more bureaucracy?

On 2nd May voters in the North East will go to the polls to elect a Mayor as part of a £1.4bn devolution deal. Will this mean more power to the people and better local investment? Or just an extra layer of government bureaucracy?

We are delighted that Conservative mayoral candidate, Guy Renner-Thompson, and his campaign manager, Scott Jewitt, will be joining us to provide some insights into the devolution and mayoral campaign.

But this is not a campaign discussion. We want to get to the bottom of what regional devolution really means for the people of the North East. 

The North East Mayoral Combined Authority (NEMCA) will hold devolved powers over transport, skills, planning and regeneration, as well as economic development. The mayor will represent almost two million people, reaching across the region from Northumberland, through Tyne and Wear, down to County Durham.  

Is this “a huge opportunity for the whole region to grow and thrive”, as Mr Renner-Thompson says?

Advocates argue that devolution strengthens our democracy, it allows regions to focus on their own priorities and gives people meaningful opportunities to get involved in politics at the local level. They suggest that regional and national inequalities will be partially alleviated by fiscal transfers from central government to regional authorities, moreover, that devolution is the answer to the failures of centralisation and will lead to an increase in democratic accountability.

On the other hand, critics argue the trend towards regionalism simply reflects the exhaustion of national government.  Devoid of big ideas and solutions to our nation’s problems, central government is more than happy to outsource its responsibilities to regional administrations. Moreover, they say, devolution will further erode the sovereignty of parliament, and that our two decades’ experience of extending devolution (in Scotland and Wales) has led to Britain becoming more unequal and more divided than ever before.  Rather than increasing accountability, it creates a gap between the levels of administration, making it more difficult for people to hold their politicians to account.

PiPs Newcastle will meet for an open discussion on the issue. You are warmly invited to join us to debate Regional Devolution and join us for a glass or two at The Telegraph, Orchard Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 3NY (behind the Central Station), on Tuesday 13th February 2024 at 7:00pm. See here for location.

We are growing!

We are expanding our activities via regional Politics in Pubs groups and have created a map where you can search for a group near you. If you live near Salisbury or Northampton we have members who wants to start new groups in those towns, so please let us know if this of interest.

Don’t worry if you can’t find anything nearby as you can start your own group. If you would like to be put in touch with other people interested in talking about politics, please reply to this email letting us know your location and we’ll help to get the conversation started.

We have also started to grow our network with other free speech groups who have a similar interest in open discussion and debate. If you have such a group and want to appear on our map please get in touch.