Sign up to receive our daily news service:

Regional bodies back Heseltine report

Thursday 1 November 2012 7:00

Regional business organisations have backed Lord Heseltine’s calls made yesterday to empower regions like the North East to drive the national recovery.

Lord Heseltine delivered his 288-page report on the state of the UK economy and called for public funds to be used to “unleash the power” and “mobilise the potential” of cities such as Newcastle.

The current London-centric economic model needs to change, he said, as he urged that £250,000 of public funds be given to the local enterprise partnerships – among almost 90 recommendations made by the former Conservative deputy prime minister.

He called for power to be devolved to the UK regions and claimed too much power now rests in London.

Paul Woolston, chair of the North East LEP, said: "Bringing the levers of growth closer to those who understand the differences in local labour markets and local economies must make sense, and lead to better value for money.

"Lord Heseltine's report identifies the broad areas where the public sector should be getting involved. More importantly he also provides some very specific recommendations for further decentralisation of responsibility and power to ensure each economic area makes the most of its potential to grow. We await the Government's response with keen interest."

Councillor Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council and North East LEP board member, who is hosted Lord Andrew Adonis yesterday as part of his week of evidence gathering for the North East Economic Review, said:

"The North East LEP is ready and able to play an even greater role in promoting the region's future, and Lord Heseltine is providing an opportunity for Government to reconsider some of the nationalisation of policy. For the future of the North East and the UK more widely I hope they take up the challenge he has set."

Meanwhile, NECC chief executive James Ramsbotham said: “Lord Heseltine is spot on to say the UK needs to have a relentless focus on competitiveness, and is spot on to say that real competitiveness requires all parts of the country to fulfill their potential.

“We firmly believe the North East economy is a huge asset that could and should be developed further. That requires national policies that take better account of regional differences, and more local control of our own destiny.

“It would be a huge missed opportunity if the response to this important report is to get mired in a lengthy debate over reorganising institutions. We need in the region to quickly get on with tackling the issues of infrastructure development, better procurement, swifter planning and growing exports which Lord Heseltine rightly identifies.”