Chamber launches campaign to build stronger North-East

The North East England Chamber of Commerce, the region’s largest business organisation, has launched its latest Stronger North-East campaign.

The ambitious set of proposals to help create dynamic places, attract investment and create jobs across the North-East region was launched on Monday.

The launch also kickstarts a two-week programme of debates and events on the future of the North-East economy.

Lesley Moody, chamber president and boss of Billingham-based AES Digital (pictured), said: “Any recovery in our region must be built on four principles.

“We must leverage the renewed sense of community that we have seen during this crisis and never lose sight of the importance of fairness, both between and within regions.

“Our recovery must address long term goals such as sustainability and ensure that businesses are able to make the most of every opportunity available to them.

“These principles will underpin every Chamber campaign and will be the measures by which we judge the Government’s response. We cannot rely solely on others to build this recovery for us, we must do what we can for ourselves.

“If ‘levelling up’ regions such as ours was a priority before the pandemic, then its importance has increased tenfold now.

“The time has come for a serious national plan to close the economic gaps between regions.

“This means fundamental changes to both national policies and funding allocations across the board to meet the specific objective of reducing regional inequality.

“Alongside this, further devolution of decision making is essential to give greater local control over how that money is spent.

”The pandemic has generated intense debate on town centres and their future. Stronger North East’s recommendations on this issue include sustainable support for independent start-ups in town centres and repurposing key spaces in them to ensure they are effectively used to stimulate economic growth.

“It also stresses the importance of Government and businesses working together closely to overcome current economic challenges.”

The chamber president also said support for the culture, arts and hospitality sectors is key and the government must recognise their important role in regeneration and improving the quality of life in the region.

To encourage debate the Chamber ‘fringe’ panel events will include Stronger North East’s themes of influence, connectivity, competitiveness, global trade, employment and skills.

Speakers include regional MPs, council leaders, Matt Beeton, Port of Tyne, Chris Smith, Thirteen Group, Robert Thorburn, Openreach and Andrew Haigh, Newcastle Building Society.