Guest Post: A North East response to the green paper on industrial strategy


The Green Paper commits to working with local areas to identify and help industrial and economic clusters of business and local specialisms, putting in place the right institutions with the right powers to help support local areas of economic strength, in an attempt to create a stronger, fairer Britain.

This response has been prepared by a group of individuals with extensive experience across all sectors in the North East. We do not represent vested interests. We are drawn from all political parties and none and we share a passionate belief in the potential of our local places. Despite the progress the North East has made, we are concerned that on a wide range of social and economic indicators the North East of England is one of the poorest performers of all the UK regions and countries.

We believe there are a number of key challenges which we must tackle, especially in the context of a post-BREXIT economy, if we are to bring about a major shift in the relative economic fortunes of our region over the next 20 years, thus allowing the North East of England to take full advantage of the opportunities offered in the aftermath of our departure from the EU.

  • Developing a quality of provision of education and technical training (5-25) which will bear international comparison;
  • Ensuring that our universities are able to make a greater contribution to developing an enterprise economy in the North East;
  • Enhancing all aspects of the North East’s infrastructure against a clear long-term plan;
  • Implementing a competitive inward investment marketing capability;
  • Establishing financial capacity based on locally-based institutions;
  • Cultivating a climate of encouragement for enterprise;
  • Developing a cadre of individuals able to straddle the public and private sectors who can offer the region the long-term leadership it needs

In order to achieve this step change in the North East’s fortunes, we offer in the following pages seven tangible proposals designed to catalyse change in those areas of our economic life where we currently lag behind in terms of growth and productivity. They are:-

1. A Scotland-North England Development Council

2. An education ‘Think and Do’ tank

3. A joint Business-Universities’ Taskforce

4. An independent North East Infrastructure Commission

5. A North East Inward Investment Agency

6. A Regional Development Bank

7. An Entrepreneurship Working Group

8. A North East Leadership Development Programme

Some of these proposals will require government involvement or financial support – particularly in the early stages; others only a supportive and facilitative approach from Whitehall and the active endorsement of ministers and senior officials. Some may be relevant to other areas of the UK; others are a specific response to the needs of the North East. All will require the active engagement of the private sector in this part of the UK – not only our businesses but also social entrepreneurs, third sector organizations and investors. We are determined to take this agenda forward and hope to do so with Ministerial support and within the framework of a broader national Industrial Strategy which allows for flexible and distinctive place-based mechanisms and responses, alongside national coordination and leadership.

Signed by:

(All of the undersigned have agreed to support this submission in their own right not as representatives of the organisations with which they are associated)

Reay Atkinson             Former Regional Director, DTI

Alastair Balls                 Chair, International Centre for Life

Tony Bradley               CEO, Public Relations Consultancy

John Bridge                   Chair, Carillion Academies Trust

Mark Bridgeman         Vice Chair, CLA

Lord Callanan

Dennis Clark                 Former MD, OGN Group Offshore Engineering

Sir Peter Carr               Former Chair, NHS Trust Development Authority

Sir John Hall

Tony Henfrey               Chair, North Star Foundation

Chris Lendrum             Former Deputy Chair, Barclays PLC

Richard Maudslay     Chair, Perseus Global Limited Advisory Board

Jeremy Middleton       Chair, Middleton Enterprises

Miles Middleton          Former Chair, Rural Development Commission

Andrew Mitchell         Chair, NE Social Investment Company

Mo O’Toole                 Professor of Practice in the Cultural & Creative Economy

The Viscount Ridley

Aidan Ruff                   Entrepreneur

Mark Stephenson        Partner, Invicta PR

Michael Stephenson    Chair, Helena Biosciences

Richard Swart               MD, Berger Group Europe

Paul Woolston            Former Chair, North East LEP