THE team tasked with reviewing the North East economy has been told it must keep itself grounded in the workforce of the region.
Nick Clegg this week backed the creation of a commission set to spend six months looking at what is needed to revive the North East’s economy.
Former Transport Secretary Lord Adonis will lead the panel of highly respected business leaders and economists, including Northumbrian Water chief executive Heidi Mottram, Will Hutton, former editor-in-chief of the Observer, now chair of the Big Innovation Centre and principal of Hertford College, Oxford; Bridget Rosewell, economist and a former adviser to the Greater London Authority; and the Right Reverend Justin Welby, the Bishop of Durham.
But while the creation of the team has been widely welcomed, some have questioned why there is no voice for North East workers and small businesses.
Labour’s Blaydon MP Dave Anderson said the Deputy Prime Minister had managed to find “a role for an old Etonian, two peers of the realm and an economist” but not for union representatives.
He said: “This is genuinely good news, but what about the workers? Why is there no place for someone like Northern TUC head Kevin Rowan who has a real grasp and understanding of the North East economy and he also has credibility and respect from all sides.
“Where is the nurse, the car worker or the cleaner? Where is the person just made redundant or the young people facing up to the challenges of a world that those who went before them messed up?
“It seems as always in this nation that those perceived as the great and good will know best and those who actually deliver for this nation will be given warm words and a pat on the head.”
Mr Rowan told The Journal he wanted to see the commission succeed.
He said: “The establishing of a commission reflects the growing realisation that the Government’s economic strategy over the first two years has let the North East down and is failing to realise our region’s potential.
“It is important that the commission casts its net wide enough to hear the concerns, ambitions and aspirations of all aspects of the North East community.”
The commission will report back to the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, a Government-backed group made up of council and business leaders.
Jeremy Middleton, whose firms provides business investment and support, is one of the partnership members welcoming the review.
He said: “The review has the authority to identify how we shift from an economy dependent on the public sector to one driven and dominated by the private sector.
“The North East needs big ideas to enhance its economic wellbeing and we must use this review as a platform to secure support to turn its recommendations into reality.”
Also lending support was North East Chamber of Commerce chief executive James Ramsbotham. “The global economy has changed radically over the past four years to an extent that could never have been predicted,” he said.
“The region needs an economic blueprint that reflects these changing times and not only builds on our strengths, but helps develop areas of our economy that could be performing better.”