Legislation has been passed which allows a new North East Combined Authority to form following a mayor's election in May.

This marks the end of a journey announced in December 2022, when local leaders agreed on a £4.2bn devolution deal with the government.

During the process a public consultation was carried out, an agreement was reached with the seven councils and two existing combined authorities, and ultimately, the government passed the legislation.

The newly-formed combined authority will cover County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland.

However, this will not affect services that local councils are responsible for delivering.

Council leaders welcomed the news in a joint statement.

It read: “This is the end of a long and hard-fought journey for the North East.

“Important decisions about our region will be taken within the region and not from Whitehall.

“It’s a momentous moment for the region to see law come into force that hands that power over.

“Working together as councils and with our communities has got us this far and we will carry that collaboration on to make a difference for the region."

From May, the functions of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, Transport North East and Invest North East England will be shifted to the new combined authority.

Moreover, the £4.2bn devolution deal, which was largely welcomed during the public consultation last year, is expected to lead to an additional 24,000 jobs.

It is also expected to unlock £5bn in private sector investment.

Earlier this week, council leaders signed a 'deeper' devolution deal with the government, meaning further powers will be handed over to the region on top of the ones initially negotiated.

An election for a mayor to lead the new combined authority is scheduled for May 2, with the authority coming into being on May 7.