More than 60 business leaders from across Northumberland and the North East have called on the region’s representatives to get behind the Northern Powerhouse initiative and ‘put a bold offer to the Government that will bring power and resources’.
The Northern Powerhouse is one of the Government’s flagship policies, aimed at boosting economic growth across the north of England. Prior to the General Election, Chancellor George Osborne visited north Northumberland to outline a six-point long-term economic plan for the North East.
One of the key tenets of this is devolution of powers to the regions, however, this is contingent on the introduction of elected mayors.
Yesterday, a group of business leaders, whose combined enterprises have a turnover in excess of £2.5billion and employ more than 5,000 people, wrote a letter calling on politicians to avoid trying to negotiate the mayoral issue, which has raised concerns in some quarters.
‘We believe the correct approach is for our local representatives to accept that the election decided the issue of elected Mayors and move on quickly to formulate a bid to Government for the powers we want to be devolved,’ it says, also warning that ‘brinkmanship over manifesto commitments is a dangerous game’.
The letter in full
Writing in a personal capacity, we want to raise public attention to the unique opportunities presented to the North East in connection with the Northern Powerhouse initiative.
The Government was re-elected with an outright majority and wants to hear from North East representatives about the powers and resources they want to see devolved to this region. However, it made a manifesto pledge that any transfer of powers would only be to areas that take the opportunity to introduce elected mayors.
Surprisingly, the media has been full of comment on this point from our local representatives, who seem to be reluctant to embrace this opportunity and are talking about ‘negotiation’ on mayors, rather than setting out the powers and resources we need in the North East. Some representatives have even claimed the Government does not have a mandate for its policy because most people in the North East voted Labour. Of course, if Labour had been elected, it would have been expected to implement policies, such as the mansion tax, that might not have been supported in the areas that it affected most, such as the Conservative-voting South East.
We believe the correct approach is for our local representatives to accept that the election decided the issue of elected mayors and move on quickly to formulate a bid to Government for the powers we want to be devolved.
We are at risk of being left behind by procrastination over the elected mayors issue. Manchester will have its new deal in full operation by May 2017. It would be all but impossible for us to achieve a deal by May 2018 unless our representatives ‘step on the gas’ and speed up their deliberations pulling together the type of bid that Ministers will find acceptable.
This is not a time for brinkmanship over manifesto commitments; it is a dangerous game that could result in the North East losing out. The time is right to put a bold offer to the Government that will bring power and resources to this region.
Full list of signatories
Adam Serfontein, Managing Director, The Hanro Group
Ajay Jagota, CEO, KIS Group
Alan Holmes, Non-executive Chairman of three private North East companies and Vice-Chair of an
Alasdair Greig, Director, Northstar Ventures Ltd
Alasdair Macdonald, CEO, Seanamic Group
Alastair Waite, Director, Altec Engineering
Dr Alex Buchan, Investment Manager, Northstar Ventures Ltd
Amanda Vigar, Managing Partner, V&A Vigar & Co (Darlington) LLP
Ammar Mirza CBE, Director, AmmarM (UK) Ltd
Andrew Nicholson, Managing Director, Nicholson Consultancy
Andrew Richardson, Deputy Chief Executive, Utilitywise PLC
Andrew Wilson, Managing Partner, UNW
Barry Pollock, Director, The Works
Brian Jobling, Executive Chairman, Eutechnyx Ltd
Caroline Moody , Business Development Director, Moody Logistics
Caroline Theobald, Managing Director, Bridge Club Ltd
Chris Thompson, Chief Executive, Express Group
Colin Coates, Chairman, Business Investors Group
Colin Willis, Managing Partner, Hotspur Capital Partners
Craig Peterson, Director, Growth Capital Ventures
Sir David Chapman Bt, DL
David Land, Board Member, North East LEP
Dr Tony Henfry, Chairman, Northstar Ventures Ltd
Duncan Young, Managing Director, Sanderson & Young
Ed Brown, Managing Director, Vega Environmental Consultants Ltd
Emma O’Rourke, Finance Director, Northstar Ventures Ltd
Fergus Trim, Founder, Broadoak Asset Management
Gary Boon, Managing Director, Shout Digital
Gill Southern, Director, Wessington Cryogenics Ltd
Geoff Thompson, Chief Executive Officer, Utilitywise PLC
Graham Robb, Senior Partner, Recognition PR Ltd
Hamish Moore, Senior Partner, Drummond HR Ltd
Ian Baggett, Chairman, Adderstone Group
Ian Gilthorpe, Senior Partner, Square One Law LLP
Ian Richards, Director, Northstar Ventures Ltd
Jeremy Middleton, Chief Executive, Middleton Enterprises
John Anderson QAEP, CBE, Chairman, North East BIC
John Barnett, Managing Director, Calsonic Kansei
John Reece, Chairman, Reece Group Ltd
John Savage, Managing Director, Flame Heating Spares
Jonathan Gold, Managing Director, Rivers Capital
Julie Drummond, Managing Director, Drummond Central Ltd, Newcastle
Kevan Carrick, Partner, JK Property Consultants
Louise Richley, Managing Director, Beyond Digital Systems Ltd
Lucy Armstrong , Chief Executive, The Alchemists (Northern) Ltd
Mark Haigh, Director, Professional Real Estate Co Ltd
Mark Harford, Managing Director, Urban Buffet Ltd
Mark Thompson, Managing Partner, Ryder Architecture
Michael Long, Director, Channon Contracts
Mike Odysseas, Managing Director, Odyssey Systems
Neville Bearpark, Corporate Finance Partner, UNW
Nick Moore, Chairman, D-Line
Nigel Mills, Chairman, The Lakes Distillery Co Ltd
Nigel Wright, Founder, Nigel Wright Recruitment
Norman Peterson, Director, Growth Capital Ventures
Paul Barron, Managing Director, Executives Online Northern England
Paul Kaiser, Corporate Finance Partner, UNW
Paul Ruddick, Managing Director, D-Line
Paul Varley, Board Member, North East LEP
Paul Walker, Chairman of Wandisco PLC
Pete Watson, Chief Executive, Atlas Cloud
Rick McArdle, Managing Director, Cottages of Northumberland
Robert Forrester, Chief Executive, Vertu Motors PLC
Russell Borthwick, Managing Partner, Dentsu Aegis Network, Newcastle
Tom Maxfield, Founder, Tom’s Companies
Dr Tony Trapp, Managing Director, Osbit Power