Negotiations over ambitious devolution plans that will drive growth and create jobs in the North East have taken an important step forward.

Following a positive meeting with Communities Secretary Greg Clark MP, members of the North East Combined Authority (neca) are looking forward to detailed discussions with government on how a devolution deal for the North East will look.

At the heart of neca’s ambitions is a need to capitalise on the area’s existing strengths – in automotive and advanced manufacturing, financial services, life sciences, offshore engineering and the creative industries – and in particular to push export-led growth.

Key aspects that are covered in neca’s proposals will focus on areas including investment in the area’s workforce, the need for fiscal devolution, a regional body to oversee transport and reform of public services.

Cllr Simon Henig, chair of the North East Combined Authority, said: “Following a very positive meeting with the Secretary of State we are looking forward to developing an ambitious devolution deal for our area.

“This is an exciting, once-in-a-generation opportunity for the North East to take control of its own destiny and to lead on key decision making that will not only boost our economic fortunes but will also improve the lives of people living, working and studying here.

“As part of our plans for growth we intend to focus sharply on opportunities to increase trade, innovation and investment.

“In particular we are keen to promote export opportunities and secure long-term investment that will build confidence and stability in our local economy.

“In order to achieve our ambitions it is essential that our plans are underpinned by an ambitious and effective devolution deal.”

As part of the more detailed discussions on a devolution deal for the area, members of the combined authority will also consider appropriate models of governance.