The Treasury official brought in to lead job creation in the North East is leaving for a job setting up a new regional bank.
Ed Twiddy has announced his decision to step down from the regeneration partnership tasked with bringing jobs to the region just days after handing in to Government a £760m masterplan for growth.
His decision raises questions over how successful the local enterprise partnership will now be in its bid to secure a huge share of the Government’s £2bn local growth fund.
Mr Twiddy, a former deputy director at the Treasury, had been preparing to steer the bid through Whitehall, with the plan set to undergo rigorous scrutiny by ministers and civil servants.
The partnership director played a lead role in bringing in some £60m of jobs cash to the partnership, helped convince Whitehall to extend its plans to widen the A1 Western Bypass and just yesterday finalised the business case for reopening the Leamside railway line though Sunderland and Durham.
He leaves the partnership to join the executive team at new North East digital bank Atom, led by Newcastle millionaire Anthony Thomson. He takes with him former Department for Work and Pensions official Sophie Haagensen, who was only appointed deputy head at the local enterprise partnership in February.
He told The Journal: “With Atom bank we have an innovative company coming to the North East, bringing some of the best minds in the banking sector here.
“We have a chance to challenge the established banking sector, and to be able to do that from here in the North East is just too good a chance to miss out on.”
Mr Twiddy had come to the region with a promise from the Treasury that the door was always open for him, and although an effective secondment was due to end, it was thought he would stand a good chance of securing a newly created role as the chief executive of both the partnership and the North East Combined Authority, a new super council formed this month.
With his departure due by the end of May, it is thought he will help see the cash bid through to its halfway stage. Already the partnership has secured positive feedback on the bid, which will eventually be judged by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
Last night Iain Malcolm, leader of South Tyneside Council and member of the partnership’s board, said: “While I’m disappointed Ed is leaving us, I am grateful for the work he has undertaken on behalf of the region in delivering the partnership and ensuring that our region has an effective voice with key civil servants in London.
“He will be a tough act to follow, but I am certain that the business and local government leaders will be able to appoint a high calibre replacement.”
And Jeremy Middleton, who leads for the partnership on business investment, said Mr Twiddy would be difficult to replace.
“He helped provide the leadership we need,” Mr Middleton said. “It was clearly, though, the pull from the bank, not a push from here. We know just how much he brought to the region.
“The critical issue now is that we have to make an appointment that will have the confidence of the new combined authority, so we have one focal point for job creation efforts.”
At the Treasury Mr Twiddy held major spending, tax and regulation roles in addition to a period in the Corporate and Private Finance team that included membership of the resolution team that stabilised Northern Rock and some of the early victims of the financial crisis.
From spring 2003, he was seconded to the Foreign and Commonwealth office for 18 months to lead economic and banking reform in the cross-departmental Iraq Policy Unit during which he was involved in the granting of independence to the Central Bank and the introduction of a new Iraqi currency.