BUSINESS and political leaders have welcomed George Osborne’s plan to devolve more power to cities and regions.
The Chancellor laid out his vision of a “Northern Powerhouse” in his first speech of the new Parliament, with elected mayors presiding over far greater powers in major cities, and called on other urban areas to follow the example of Greater Manchester, in taking advantage of new powers.
Decisions made hundreds of miles away by officials are never likely to deliver what we need in terms of growth and development.Coun Paul Watson, leader, Sunderland City Council
“We all know the old model of trying to run everything in our country from the centre of London is broken,” he said.
“It has led to an unbalanced economy. It has made people feel remote from the decisions that affect their lives.
“It’s not good for our prosperity – it’s not good for our democracy.”
Manchester-born economist Jim O’Neill has been named Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, and will have special responsibility for encouraging economic growth across the North of England.
Sunderland City Council leader Coun Paul Watson said: “The Chancellor should be applauded for taking early action in his efforts to make the Northern Powerhouse a reality.
“Cities of all sizes have been calling for the role of Whitehall to be reduced or removed, so that we can get on with delivering what our local communities want and need.
“Decisions made hundreds of miles away by officials are never likely to deliver what we need in terms of growth and development.
“While we wait to see what the proposed City Devolution Bill says, here in Sunderland we have already secured a city deal, together with South Tyneside.
“We see further powers and resources as a natural next step and as a city we are ready to maximise the opportunities this would offer us.”
North East Chamber of Commerce chief executive James Ramsbotham, said: “The North East is a critical part of the UK’s economy and if we are to be at the forefront of a Northern Powerhouse, our region must be empowered to deliver more.
“The North East has a great deal to gain from devolution and should be making a strong case to Government for a similar deal to that of Manchester, but tailored to our specific needs.
“As a region we must agree what powers we wish to receive from devolution and what we would do with them.
“Whatever the administrative arrangements are, we need a plan that is costed, with a full business case and demonstrates a contribution to both regional growth and UK plc.
“Devolution must take a sensible approach, recognising that the North East is in a global marketplace.”