Good to see the Newcastle Chronicle picking up on Newsmaker/NKA’s thoughts on the Northern Powerhouse. I noticed that even one of the most outspoken Conservative supporters in the region – Graham Robb – believes the earliest the North East could see devolved powers is May 2018. So what happens in the meantime when the Chancellor says major financial support will only go to areas which have elected mayors?
Businesses in the North East cannot afford to wait.
The Prime Minister’s promise that the North East will not be left behind is at least a recognition of what many of us fear.
His plans to improve our roads, cut our taxes, train 200,000 apprentices and extend the right to buy to the region’s 130,000 housing association tenants are, he says, evidence of his vision of One Nation.
The Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill will, it is claimed, “provide for the devolution of powers to cities with elected metro mayors, helping to build a Northern Powerhouse”.
One of Mr Cameron’s three North East MPs, James Wharton, has been given the task of ensuring that the Northern Powerhouse does not run out of steam just outside Leeds.
I wish Mr Wharton well, but if fresh government investment is dependent on the region joining together behind an elected mayor I suggest we do not hold our breath.
We must be mindful of our history, and rightfully proud, but equally we must be more forceful in showcasing our present and future. We must celebrate and promote success and encourage further investment.
We have attracted multi nationals to the region and delivered success hand in hand with the likes of Nissan, Komatsu and GE. We have amazing locally grown and internationally successful businesses, such as the Centre for Process Innovation, Shepherd Offshore, British Engines and Miller Groundbreaking and we are increasingly innovative in the public sector.
We must continue to make the case for the North East of England, the value of our economic contribution, and crucially the impact our businesses can make.
Just think of the importance to the whole of the UK of the oil, gas and energy, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and automotive industries.
And how our housing associations, despite considerable financial pressure – which will increase if their prime assets are sold off – continue to provide high quality homes for North East people.
The election leaflets and manifestos are now pulp.
While the Government looks to implement their vision, and the other parties focus on their or their search for new leaders, business cannot stand still. And without promoting a siege mentality, I believe we should help each other because waiting for the Northern Powerhouse to roll into town could take an awfully long time.