The run-up to Easter saw the publication of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Strategic Economic Plan.
This sets out proposals to build on our successes and expend some £1.5bn to achieve further economic growth through education improvement, skills development, job creation, and support for property and infrastructure. I sincerely hope that the Coalition Government adopts this plan and provides the essential financial support. We have already shown the gap between the North East and London and the South East is beginning to narrow but further effort and commitment is needed.
The first meeting of the Combined Authority (CA) was a momentous occasion. The CA is formed to achieve job creation, transport improvements and economic development and is a historical statement of intent.
All of these initiatives need Government support but the key factors to success are; collaboration, stability and marketing.
Working collaboratively, the seven councils, the NELEP, the private sector, the voluntary sector and the community as a whole must back these plans to ensure that we bring prosperity to all.
Stability is required in political and policy terms. No one knows what will happen at the General Election in 2015 but we need a firm commitment from all sides that, whoever wins the election, we will be allowed to implement the Strategic Economic Plan and deliver what is required without interruption.
I return to a subject I have mentioned on numerous occasions – the marketing of the North East region. UK Trade & Industry is charged with attracting Foreign Direct Investment to these shores. It took over the role played by the previous Regional Development Agencies.
Through our RDA One North East we had a successful marketing thrust, particularly with the Passionate People, Passionate Places. But the national role of the UKTI seems to have blunted the region’s approach. The CA has seven separate Economic Development offices (one at each council) and my view, in common with many others, is that this is too fragmented.
It is crucial that we have a comprehensive single regional marketing thrust through one organisation which can harness the good that is being done by UKTI, the CA and each of the seven councils.
Communicating with a single voice will illustrate better than anything that the public and private sectors of the North East are capable of working as one to achieve the ambitions of our Strategic Economic Plan.
Kevan Carrick is a partner at JK Property Consultants LLP, policy spokesman for RICS North East, a member of the RICS Dispute Resolution Panel and chairman of Northern Dispute Resolution.