Vision for Sunderland’s future unveiled

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A NEW body to promote the North East at home and abroad, and a region-wide rival to London’s Oystercard, are among the proposals unveiled on Wearside today.

Lord Andrew Adonis was at Vantec’s warehouse, next to Sunderland’s Nissan plant, this morning to reveal the results of the North East Independent Economic Review – more than six months’ work aimed at identifying ways to create more and better jobs across the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) area.

Among the suggestions are the creation of “North East International”, to promote the region as One NorthEast’s “Passionate People, Passionate Places” campaign did; doubling the number of apprenticeships to tackle youth unemployment and improve skills; a North East Innovation Board, to create and finance new high-growth enterprises; improvements in transport infrastructure and services to boost the region’s national and international links and help people commute more easily and cheaply; and the creation of stronger public institutions, including bringing organisations such as the new British Business Bank, to the region.

A new Combined Authority, made up of the NELEP and all seven local councils in its area, will oversee the drive to make the economic review’s vision a reality.

“The imperative for the North East is to create more and better jobs,” said Lord Adonis.

“I strongly welcome the decision to set up a Combined Authority focused on skills, transport and economic development. Its immediate priorities should be youth apprenticeships, the introduction of smartcard ticketing to make bus and Metro travel easier and cheaper, and support for companies, particularly in growth sectors like automotive manufacturing.

“We need to keep more of our brightest and best graduates in the North East. There need to be more internships, scholarships and innovation centres.

“The North East has great strengths – in its people, its enterprises, its public institutions, and so many other assets. There is huge capacity for success in the future.”

Greg Clark, financial secretary to the Treasury, said: “The Government has said we will devolve resources and responsibility to places that can demonstrate credible and compelling economic leadership. This report shows how the North East can do that.

“It is an excellent basis for me to negotiate a Local Growth Deal in which Government, local businesses and civic leaders, regardless of politics, work together to make the North East attract and grow jobs and prosperity.”