North East figures from business and politics sign up for Journal's devolution debate

The Journal's devolution debate event on April 21 will look at the need for greater powers to be devolved to the North East

Durham Council leader Simon Henig
Durham Council leader Simon Henig

Leading figures from the worlds of politics and business in the North East have signed up to be part of the Journal’s devolution breakfast.

Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council and chair of the North East Combined Authority, and Dianne Sharp, regional director of the CBI, will both be on the panel at the event on April 21 at the Marriott Hotel in Gosforth.

The breakfast has been organised with the de-centralisation of power a hot topic in the coming election.

A number of bodies are pressing for the North East to be given greater say over how it is run, but there is also concern that the region is being left behind as devolution moves at a faster pace in Scotland to the north and Greater Manchester to the south.

Writing in her Journal column earlier this year, Ms Sharp said that devolution could be a huge positive for the region if it is done right.

She said: “The CBI firmly believes that businesses in the North East and across the UK should have a voice in this debate – and that economic growth should be the centrepiece of any further reforms.

“Since the people of Scotland took the decision to stay in the United Kingdom last year, the debate on the balance of power between central government and the regions has hotted up.

“The key challenge for policymakers in the North East and across the UK is to set out how devolution fits into plans for growth, rather than fitting growth into plans for devolution.”

Dianne Sharp
Dianne Sharp

Coun Henig, meanwhile, has led discussions with the Government on getting greater powers devolved to the region.

Last week he said: “We believe that devolving powers on key regeneration issues would result in better decisions being made for our area.

“It is important that we hear the views of residents, businesses and our national politicians so that they can help to shape our final proposals before we begin discussions with the Government.”

The Journal’s devolution breakfast is being organised in conjunction with Developing Consensus, a private and public partnership that is aiming to address the issues facing development of the Newcastle area.

Members of the group include some of the main players in the regional development sector, including the Hanro Group, Bond Dickinson, Ryder Architecture, Clouston Group, Carrillion PLC, Quorum Business Park and RICS

The event takes place on April 21, from 7.30am to 10am.

Further panel members will be announced in the coming weeks. To reserve your table/tickets, log onto www.thejournal.co.uk/businessbreakfasts or contact Jennifer Lee, event manager, on 0191 2016168 or email jennifer.lee@trinitymirror.com.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer