Regional big hitter joins the panel for North East devolution breakfast

Jonathan Blackie joins the panel for the event being held by The Journal to discuss more powers for the North East

A man waving a Saltire flag at sunrise in Edinburgh
A man waving a Saltire flag at sunrise in Edinburgh

One of the best known figures in North East public life has joined the panel for next week’s devolution debate being staged by The Journal.

Jonathan Blackie was regional director of Government Office for the North East from 2002 to 2011 and is now a visiting professor at Northumbria University.

In his current role, he co-authored the Borderlands report, which examined the potential impact of independence for Scotland on the North.

Next week he will join a panel of experts debating the possibility of the North East pushing for more powers to be devolved from Westminister.

Already confirmed on the panel are Simon Henig, chair of the North East Combined Authority; Dianne Sharp, regional director of the CBI; Luke Raikes from the think tank ippr North; and Fergus Trim, from the Quorum Business Park.

MPs, council leaders and leading business figures from around the region have been invited to the event, which is being staged by The Journal in partnership with Developing Consensus, a private and public partnership that is aiming to address the issues facing development of the Newcastle area.

Among those backing the event is Mick Thompson, office senior partner at KPMG in Newcastle.

He said: “The concept of locally taking greater control over the decisions that affect the quality of life and prosperity of the North East’s future population and - ultimately - over its financial affairs is absolutely to be welcome. Even more important is the role of devolutionary powers, cascaded down on a city region basis, in building the Northern Powerhouse.

“It’s to be hoped the proposals enable the North East to have a louder voice in this debate and provide a platform for bolder, swifter, tailored activity, as opposed to delivering business as usual in a new way. It is important to have the framework that allows those leading the region to implement change but as a region we also need greater clarity and focus on what our ‘asks’ are of government, which will deliver a devolution deal that really makes an impact to people here.

“I have no doubt that participating in a coalition of cities and areas working collaboratively for the collective good, creating a Northern economy that is greater than the sum of its parts, is a really meaningful vision for business in the North East to back and which we need to get behind.”

The Devolution Breakfast will take place on April 21 at the Marriott Hotel in Gosforth, Newcastle, from 7.30am to 9.30am.

To reserve tables or tickets for the event, log onto www.thejournal.co.uk/businessbreakfasts or contact event manager Jennifer Lee 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