COLUMN: David Laws - United front will help our region prosper

IT has been quite the week and one that I will remember for a very long time.

IT has been quite the week and one that I will remember for a very long time.

As someone born and bred in the North East, I have always been incredibly proud of my roots and I consider it a great honour to wear the chains of office for the region’s largest business membership organisation.

It is not a position I take lightly. I intend to use my time as president to highlight and promote the many great things we do in our region and use my position as chief executive of Newcastle International Airport to help carry the message overseas.

I gave a lot of thought to a theme for my time in post. My conclusion is that our focus should be on working together. The whole is always greater than the sum of the parts and without regional unity we’re making things harder for ourselves and harder for our businesses.

We have made significant strides in this area in recent years with our two excellent Local Enterprise Partnerships that do business in the right way. They are resource-light, quick, efficient, ask difficult questions and rightly prioritise the investments they make. Is this the way we want it to be? I say yes.

The LEPs are an ideal way to mesh the aspirations of both the public and private sector and provide a united voice that will help us be heard in Whitehall.

And if we can demonstrate common goals, an economic case for our ambitions and a genuine benefit for UK PLC, then we’re more likely to receive backing from the Government.

I’m also pleased that my presidency will include NECC celebrating 200 years since regional traders first formed an organisation to support local business and 20 years since the North East Chambers united. This was in recognition that businesses across the North East believe there is much more that unites than divides us. We mustn’t lose that, even if some administrative boundaries have been re-drawn.

I would like to use this opportunity to put down in print my thanks and admiration of John Mowbray OBE, who passes on the presidency and is an incredibly hard act to follow.

He has represented NECC with distinction and class. I hope my time in the post will be as successful.

:: David Laws, NECC president

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