North East says Yes! New group formed to back devolution plans

Right to left. Front: Joanna Berry, Mo O'Toole, Jeremy Middleton, Sean Bullick, Graham Robb. Middle: Kevan Carrick, Peter Walls, Brian Aitken, Alastair Balls, Charlie Hoult, Ian Dormer. Back: Duncan Young, Ian Gilthorpe, Paul McLean, Ian Baggett, Stephen Bell.
Right to left. Front: Joanna Berry, Mo O'Toole, Jeremy Middleton, Sean Bullick, Graham Robb. Middle: Kevan Carrick, Peter Walls, Brian Aitken, Alastair Balls, Charlie Hoult, Ian Dormer. Back: Duncan Young, Ian Gilthorpe, Paul McLean, Ian Baggett, Stephen Bell.
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A new group has been formed to give business backing to the North East devolution plans unveiled last month.

North East Says Yes! is the brainchild of North East Local Enterprise Partnership board member and investor Jeremy Middleton, and Alastair Balls, former senior economic advisor to the Treasury, and is aimed at encouraging people from across the political spectrum to take an active role in formulating policy.

The way the Northern Powerhouse agenda is developing represents an opportunity for social and economic renewal in the North East, and North East Says Yes is all about bringing fresh, real life thinking to this.

Alistair Balls

North East Says Yes! will encourage, research and promote new ideas, discuss policy based on the real experiences and needs of the region’s business community and provide a platform for business to get involved in directing new powers and resources.

Jeremy Middleton, chief executive of Middleton Investments, said: “We believe current political developments mean there is an opportunity and a need for new political, economic and social ideas in the North East.”

Alastair Balls, who is chairman of the International Centre for Life, said: “The way the Northern Powerhouse agenda is developing represents an opportunity for social and economic renewal in the North East, and North East Says Yes! is all about bringing fresh, real-life thinking to this.”

North East Says Yes! will commission articles and proposals from people across the region and from varying backgrounds and political leanings, on a range of topics and sectors.

This could include contributors from business, academia, political journalism, education and the public services, through the North East Says Yes! website.

“The ideas and proposals that are developed will be made available to politicians, economists and civil servants, and we hope they will help to shape future policy in the region,” said Jeremy Middleton.

Mr Balls added: “North East Says Yes! is to be openly and transparently funded by public donations from those who wish to stimulate public policy debate in the best interests of the North East.

“This is a time of change in the North East, but it must be change that is guided by real experiences, real needs and the potential for real positive outcomes for our region.”