Plans to boost jobs

A NEW North East Independent Economic Review has put the need to create more and better jobs at the top of its agenda.

The report was published by the North Eastern Local Enterprise Partnership last week following six months of work with the region’s private and public sector, universities and community groups.

Andrew Adonis, who chaired the review team, announced five priorities — championing North East International to promote the region for trade, talent, tourism and investment; double the number of youth apprenticeships to tackle low skills and high unemployment, along with raising school standards and increasing the proportion of people going into higher education; setting up a North East Innovation Board to help create and finance high growth enterprises and jobs; improve transport infrastructure and connections within the region so people can get to work more easily and cheaply; and to create stronger public institutions, including locating key national institutions, such as the British Business Bank, in the region.

All seven principal councils in the area will work in partnership, with the aim to set up a combined authority by next April, to help deliver three core groups, North East International, Transport North East and Skills North East.

Included in proposals are moves to introduce smartcard transport ticketing across the region, which would be similar to London’s Oyster card, and ensure comprehensive broadband connectivity in rural areas by 2016.

Lord Adonis said: “The task now is to agree on a plan and implement it. There is no time to lose.

“The North East has great strengths – in its people, its enterprises, its public institutions and its natural, cultural and so many other assets.

“There is a huge capacity for success in the future, with will and leadership.”

Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith has welcomed the review.

He said: “Lord Adonis and the review team are right to identify key priorities for the region and structures to give the region more power to deal with these priorities. The national government will need to decentralise more power to the North East, but that is in line with the approach the Coalition is taking.

“The report is also a timely reminder that the Coalition Government’s commitment to apprenticeships and skills is vital and needs to be stepped up.”

Sir Alan said that proposed transport improvements should also be a priority for early implementation.