Business leaders to hear results of major review of North-East economy

Darlington and Stockton Times: Lord Andrew Adonis Lord Andrew Adonis

THIS morning, 200 North-East business chiefs will hear the findings of Lord Andrew Adonis' in-depth review that could transform the regional economy over the next 15 years. Business Editor Andy Richardson looks at what they can expect.

THE scope of the Adonis review into the North-East economy is vast.

By the end of March reams of research documents will be distilled into five recommendations sent to the Government.

Improving the region's transport links and giving it the tools to compete in the global market are expected to be high on the list of priorities set to land on the desk of Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.

A conference taking place today at the Baltic in Gateshead - which was three times oversubscribed - will unveil details of what Lord Adonis and his team believe are the big challenges facing the region.

The Independent Economic Review took analysis from Durham, Newcastle, Sunderland and Northumbria Universities, as well as input from industry experts, to build up a picture of what makes the North-East tick.

The report that follows will attempt to unlock growth in a region that punches well above its weight in exports but is plagued by high unemployment, a skills shortage and below average business start-ups.

The Labour peer heads a team of high profile figures drawn from industry and public life, including Northumbrian Water boss Heidi Mottram; Will Hutton, former Observer editor; Lord Don Curry, chairman of NFU Mutual and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

There is clearly a lot of interest across the region about what the review team have come up with and it needs to do things in a big way, said Paul Woolston, chairman of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP), which commissioned the work.

He added: "This is not just about things we should be doing over the next 12 months. It should also be about how we put down a solid foundation for the region to succeed globally in the long term.

"To do that will need some transformational stuff. I expect bold recommendations that could have a high cost but would bring huge advantages in terms of jobs and the North-East becoming more self sustaining.

"At the same time you have to be realistic and there could also be some things that don't need cash from central government just an agreement to do things differently."

Among the measures he hopes to see is for the region to take control of a single pot of cash for transport improvements.

In addition to the wishlist being sent to Whitehall the report will deliver five recommendations to NELEP and five to its regional business and council partners.

Mr Woolston concluded: "I am hoping the report will have a resonance with the Government that means they back us to get on with it now and don't waste any time."

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