The Government will support any Local Transport Authority wishing to franchise their bus services.
The Bus Services Act 2017 provides automatic access to franchising powers to Mayoral Combined Authorities in England.
Other authorities can request those powers from the Secretary of State but need to demonstrate that they have the capability and resources to deliver franchising, and that franchising is the best option to deliver improvements for passengers.
The Department is currently revising the Bus Services Act 2017 Franchising Scheme Guidance, published in November 2017, to provide updated and detailed advice on the franchising process.
Regarding the current action on Go North East, I hope both sides can come to a mutually acceptable agreement that delivers for passengers.