WEARSIDE is set to get sweeping new powers aimed at boosting business growth and creating thousands of jobs.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced last night that Sunderland’s application to be included in the latest round of City Deals had been approved.
In October, Sunderland was one of 20 cities nationwide invited to bid for a deal that would see Government hand over powers in return for councils signing up to a series of promises.
In a speech at the Mansion House in London last night, Mr Clegg confirmed the 20 applications had been approved. Whitehall officials will now sit down with representatives from the various cites to hammer out individual deals in detail.
“Even more places will be free from Whitehall control and have the tools to power their own growth,” he said.
“These deals help cities and their wider areas make once-in-a-generation changes that will be felt by everyone across their region.
“Letting go of power and money doesn’t come naturally to Whitehall. Over time, the economic importance of other parts of the country has been devastatingly downplayed, as the economic elite have narrowed the debate towards a London-centric view.
“Rather than let our industries and communities wither, we need to free up cities outside of London that have their own unique selling points.”
Sunderland is not the only North East council involved. Newcastle already has a City Deal in place and Tees Valley is also included in the latest round.
Sunderland’s proposal focuses on unlocking more growth in manufacturing and advanced engineering on Wearside and across the wider region, and the development of a central business district in the city centre.
Sunderland City Council and partners, including South Tyneside Council, will be working closely with the Government and other organisations to tackle hold-ups with the availability of land, transport, skills and the pace of development, with the aim of creating up to 16,000 jobs in advanced manufacturing over the long term.
Sunderland City Council leader, Coun Paul Watson, said: “This announcement is testament to the strength of Sunderland’s bid and recognition of our ambition to grow the economy of Sunderland and the wider region.
“We were confident our proposals were the right ones for Sunderland and the North East and this is supported by last night’s announcement, with the City Deal offering the opportunity to inject further pace into our long-term plans for the city.”
Leader of South Tyneside Council, Coun Iain Malcolm, said: “We are delighted the bid for a Sunderland and North East City Deal has been successful, recognising the significance and opportunity to establish the region as the UK’S advanced manufacturing hub.”
Business leaders also welcomed the announcement. North East Chamber of Commerce’s head of member relations, Jonathan Walker, said: “The City Deal represents a great opportunity for Sunderland and the wider area. Sunderland can build on its expertise in sectors, such as automotive manufacturing, to bring benefits for the whole North East.”
CBI North East director, Sarah Green, added: “Sunderland’s City Deal proposes to build on the outstanding success of Nissan by attracting further advance manufacturing businesses, while providing the opportunity to regenerate parts of the city centre.”