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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Martin Gannon named Deputy Mayor

North East mayor Kim McGuinness has named Gateshead’s council leader as her new deputy.

Martin Gannon will take up the role of second in command on the new North East Combined Authority (NECA), taking decisions if the mayor is absent.

Cllr Gannon has led Gateshead Council since 2016 and has been the region’s main voice on transport issues over recent years, as chair of the now defunct North East Joint Transport Committee.

A former trade union official for the GMB who has been a Labour councillor since 1984, Cllr Gannon will also take on the transport portfolio within Ms McGuinness’ cabinet – a key role, with her manifesto having included pledges to take the region’s buses back under public control and deliver major infrastructure upgrades like the extension of the Tyne and Wear Metro to Washington.

The Labour mayor said: “I’m on a mission to make our North East the home of real opportunity. I’ve worked with Cllr Martin Gannon for a lot of years now and I’m delighted to be working with him on this.

“We want better jobs, better transport, better homes and a better future for everyone in our region. That’s what we’ll deliver for the people of the North East.”

Cllr Gannon has long been known as a prominent critic of the idea of a regional mayor, having played a key role in the collapse of a previous devolution deal for the North East in 2016.

He also complained last year that the new, multi-billion pound agreement to establish an elected mayor across Tyne and Wear, Northumberland and County Durham was “not a good deal” and called the proposed North East mayor a “non job” – however, he was ultimately supportive of the deal.

Each of the area’s seven council leaders sits on the cabinet alongside the new mayor.

Its makeup has already changed since the inaugural NECA meeting in May, with Michael Mordey having replaced Graeme Miller as Sunderland’s council leader after the Labour Party controversially intervened to install him without local councillors being allowed to choose their own leader.

The proposed cabinet portfolios, due to be agreed at a meeting in Gateshead next Tuesday, are:

  • Education, inclusion and skills – Tracey Dixon, leader of South Tyneside Council;
  • Transport – Martin Gannon, leader of Gateshead Council;
  • Culture, creative, tourism and sport – Amanda Hopgood, leader of Durham County Council;
  • Economy – Nick Kemp, leader of Newcastle City Council;
  • Finance and investment – Michael Mordey, leader of Sunderland City Council;
  • Housing and land – Dame Norma Redfearn, elected mayor of North Tyneside;
  • Environment, coast and rural – Glen Sanderson, leader of Northumberland County Council.
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