Last week the government gave the go ahead for the seven councils, in Northumberland, Tyne & Wear and Durham to form a North East Leadership Board, which could be established as soon as next month.
All seven say this will give them a stronger voice in attracting jobs and investment to the region. Coun Simon Henig, chair of the North East Leadership Board, described the decision as an “important and exciting moment in our history”.
This now gives the region the platform on which to implement its economic strategy, presently being prepared, and to secure much-needed funding to attract private funds by which to make the investments needed to attract those jobs and new investment.
My drive is to see the region marketed much more strongly and to change perceptions by showing that ours is a growing economy and one in which investment will bring excellent returns.
There is much support from the private sector. We need to ensure that collaboration is not just among the seven councils in this NE Leadership Board but also a strong partnership with commerce and industry.
I have for some time raised the debate that such action is essential to market the region to attract those investors and thus more jobs for the region. With the Leadership Board in place we can create a solution and deliver the changes needed to grow our regional economy.
Saturday was International Women’s Day – which highlights the crucial role women can play in our economic growth. A statement from Pily Mirazi, keynote speaker at the London event, resonates: “If we could encourage as many women as we do men to start new businesses, our economy would be that much stronger.”
Connectivity is another important issue and the East Coast rail franchise has hit the headlines again as the next round of bidding for its operation begins. The last occasion was a fiasco with the operator handing back the contract because it overbid.
I hope the government decision on the next bid will be taken on a long-term basis in terms of the well being of the service and what is needed to support the economic growth of the region rather than a tax raising exercise. Rail is another important driver for the North East economy and we need to ensure that the right decisions are made in the best interests of the region.
:: 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