MHW joins regional leaders informing way forward for North East

MHW provided background information and regional scene-setting ahead of the recent City Growth Commission event in Newcastle. We were also involved in the local hearings and discussions with a mix of local council, business and academic representatives that will help the Commission form its views.

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For them the objective is to come up with proposals that will lay the foundations for a significant power shift away from the centre (Westminster primarily) and towards regional cities. The ultimate aim is to make a case for 'cities' (or the City Region in the North East case) to take a major new role in our political economy.

While the debate raised many interesting points, on the face of it identifying a way forward for the North East has some major challenges, with many questions to ponder.

How will the North East respond to a (more) independent Scotland? Are we too remote from the proposed HS2 scheme for it to have any beneficial impact? What can we do about the skills shortages that are stifling the growth of our traditional engineering and industrial sectors? Can Hitachi become another Nissan? What role can the universities play?

In truth, much will rest with the success or otherwise of the newly formed LA7 combined authority and its ability to wrench greater devolution of fiscal and policy making powers from London. But can it really ever be effective in an isolated North East without a loosening of the national purse strings?

The City Growth Commission's report is due later in 2014 and is intended to set out a road map for change. This outside and objective view of the North East will make interesting reading when it appears.

 

 

Written by Ian Watson at 00:00
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