Councillors in the North East have moved a step closer to launching a devolved authority with an elected mayor for the region.
Members of the North East Combined Authority Leadership Board confirmed their support for the proposed devolution deal which would mean more decisions for transport, the economy and skills being made locally.
The elected mayor would be part of a decision-making cabinet made up of the leaders of the councils which formed the combined authority.
The decision means voters would elect the first North East mayor in May 2017 for an initial term of three years.
Cllr Simon Henig, chair of the North East Combined Authority, said: 'We feel that we are now in a position to move to the next stage of the devolution process, which will be the creation of a mayoral combined authority for the North East.
'Through this process we have built some very positive relationships, particularly with the business sector, and I believe there has been a real meeting of minds in terms of the priorities for our region, in terms of investment and particularly around transport.'