North East LEP back NEvolution campaign for Government spending

INVESTMENT cash should be handed over to the North East as the call for greater devolution continues.

INVESTMENT cash should be handed over to the North East as the call for greater devolution continues.

Businesses and council leaders in the region have said they are best placed to decide how millions of pounds in Government investment funding should be spent.

Members of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership are among many backing the NEvolution campaign calling for the region to be allowed a bigger say over large areas of Government spending.

Chancellor George Osborne is being asked to use his spending review to back a report by Lord Heseltine setting out how helping the regions lead on their own growth will benefit the UK economy. Among the powers on offer would be a greater say over how existing business support cash is spent, letting firms and councils in the region find the right companies to back.

Paul Woolston, chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Economic and jobs growth are at the centre of our purpose.

“The North East LEP has already had clear success in using existing funds and resources, including the Regional Growth Fund, Growing Places Fund and the Enterprise Zone growth income, to invest in businesses and support new jobs and business development.”

The partnership has already won cash to create a £55m growth pot, which Mr Woolston said is an example of what can be achieved.

“It will help to drive the economy not only of this area, but of the UK. We now have a fund in the North East that will keep more of the proceeds from our growth in the region.

“I’m delighted that through strong joint working the North East LEP will be supporting even more investment to boost jobs and growth.”

Paul Watson, chair of the Association of North East Councils, is one of those supporting the NEvolution campaign.

The Sunderland council leader is among those bidding for new funding arrangements as part of the Government’s programme of City Deals.

He said: “Nissan’s record-breaking performance is having a positive effect on its supply chain, many of which are located in the city.

“This in turn will have an impact on the wider region, boosting the North East’s business economy.

“Sunderland’s City Deal will extend the export drive to create a focus on the advanced manufacturing sector with proposals for a major manufacturing park in partnership with South Tyneside which will generate wealth and spread the benefits of manufacturing growth.

“If decision-making powers are devolved to this region it will boost regeneration and development across all sectors by driving momentum in key sectors and strengthening powerful partnerships across the North East.”

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