BUSINESS leaders from across the North East held a summit in Newcastle to set the economic priorities for the region.
North East Infrastructure: Are We Fit for the Future? attracted more than 100 attendees from the business community and the public sector – all of whom called for additional infrastructure investment and co-ordination to help the region meet its economic potential.
The North East boasts a wealth of infrastructure benefits which means it has an enviable capacity for sustainable economic growth. Huge water resources, large port facilities, a coastline with proximity to proposed offshore wind farms and excellent international airports make the North East a resource-rich yet relatively under-invested-in region.
The conference was organised by the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC). Mark Stephenson, NECC policy advisor, said: “We have so many assets in the region that are extremely attractive for inward investors and existing businesses, but our infrastructure prioritisation and investment lags way behind the rest of the country. This must be addressed if we are to compete for business on a level playing field.
“We have fantastic rail links, but we’re seeing the west coast get priority for high-speed rail investment, we’re the only region of the UK that does not enjoy a motorway link with the capital, our ports and airports are going great guns, but are hampered by restrictive taxation and our rural areas require greater access to superfast broadband.
“Currently we punch above our weight in terms of winning investment, but with these issues addressed we could help the region recognise its true economic potential.”