Jake Berry MP, the Northern Powerhouse Minister, has visited Durham just days after the central Government states devolution deal will go ahead without the County.
The Northern Powerhouse Minister is set to meet Councillor Simon Henig, the leader of Durham County Council this week, marking the Minister's first visit to Durham.
The visit comes days after the Department of Communities and Local Government stated a devolution deal is imminent. Mr Berry MP has cited the purpose of his visit as a means to progress discussion on what role the area could take up in the Northern Powerhouse Vision.
ChronicleLive reports that Councillor Henig stated before their meeting, "We welcome the opportunity to discuss how the minister and the Government will continue to support us in this important work ensuring we can play our full part within their Northern Powerhouse vision."
Matters became complicated, however, when Durham joined Gateshead, South Shields and Sunderland councils in voting against a £900m devolution deal with the North East Combined Authority.
Helen Golightly, the Executive Director of the North East LEP, came to the defence of Durham after the rejection of the devolution deal stating Durham still has a key role to play in the Northern Powerhouse.
"In our Strategic Economic Plan, we set out our ambition to create 100,000 more and better jobs in the North East economy by 2024. Mr Berry’s visit is a fantastic opportunity to show, in practical terms, how this is being achieved through investment and focus on activities that will help businesses grow.
“The North East is committed to being a key contributor to the Northern Powerhouse and re-balancing the UK economy, and we are pleased to welcome Mr Berry to demonstrate this.” reported ChronicleLive.