Pride of Wearside auto industry highlighted in Parliament
The cream of Wearside's automotive industry will gather in Parliament this week.
The North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA), which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, will highlight its work in a reception at the House of Commons on Wednesday, hosted by Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson, whose constituency covers the plant.
"I am delighted to be sponsoring a second event with the NEAA, which is testament to the strong and growing automotive manufacturing sector in the North East, which now generates over £11billion of sales and employs over 30,000 people directly," said Mrs Hodgson.
"In September, Nissan celebrated 30 years of automotive manufacturing in Sunderland and with the news of the new Qashqai and X-Trail being built in the region, it certainly re-affirms the North East’s position as a global centre of excellence for automotive manufacturing; and provides a springboard for the future growth and expansion of the sector."
Launched in March 2015 the NEAA was set up to support the sustainable economic growth and competitiveness of the North East automotive sector. Today the industry-led cluster boasts a staggering 180 members, and a further 26 SMEs engaged on an ERDF funded programme to support the growth and competitiveness of North East based SMEs.
With more than 200 members, the NEAA has created a number of working groups in which firms collaborate on issues that have an impact on their sector, including Business Competitiveness, Skills, Innovation & Technology and Trade and Investment.
Nissan plant boss Kevin Fitzpatrick is chairman of the NEAA: “We are delighted to be showcasing the region’s automotive industry to the rest of the country at a second NEAA Westminster reception," he said.
"We need to ensure wider stakeholders are fully informed of the activity that takes place in the North East as well as the expertise that has grown here; and this event provides us with a platform to demonstrate this."
The event will feature presentations from key industry figures highlighting the strength of the North East automotive sector.
Mike Matthews MBE, Managing Director at Nifco UK and Vice Chair of the NEAA who will be speaking at the reception, said: "The NEAA works to overcome barriers to growth by providing a voice for the sector on regional, national and international platforms and driving the agendas of key issues such as innovation and skills.
"The NEAA is a vital support organisation not only for the North East region, but the industry as a whole, and this is why it is important to ensure Members of Parliament are well informed."
NEAA CEO Paul Butler added: "The NEAA is very much industry-driven, with all our working groups populated by industrialists who work together and share best practice in order to improve regional performance.
"One of the reasons NEAA was formed was to raise awareness and act as the voice of the North East automotive sector. The Westminster Reception is about letting the Government know how the North East industry is driving the region’s competitiveness.
Sunderland City Council leader Coun Paul Watson said: "The alliance has become an important organisation in a very short space of time. This importance is reflected in its growing membership, its activity, and how the automotive sector is a major part of the North East and national economy.
"The NEAA is helping to drive growth and this event is about reminding decision-makers in Westminster how important the North East’s automotive sector is to UK plc."