Communities Secretary Sajid Javid pulled the plug on the plans after four of the seven councils involved in the proposed North East Combined Authority (NECA)- Durham, Gateshead, Sunderland, and South Tyneside – voted against the deal on offer.

But NECA chairman – and Sunderland City Council leader – Coun Paul Watson condemned the move and said the region remained committed to devolution: “Although we were not able to reach a majority agreement to proceed to public consultation at this present time, we have reaffirmed our commitment to working together with the Government to achieve the right devolution deal for our region.

North East England Chamber of Commerce director of policy Ross Smith said: “We’re at a loss to understand why, after a year of negotiations, it has not been possible to strike a deal.

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