Chamber Champions Devolution Deal: A Pathway to Empowerment for North East

A photograph of the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle taken during the day from the river Tyne.

The North East England Chamber of Commerce has urged local and combined authorities to prioritise businesses in the establishment of the North East Mayoral Combined Authority (NEMCA). In a letter supporting the North East devolution deal consultation, the Chamber emphasised the region’s businesses’ priorities, needs, and concerns.

Chamber Chief Executive John McCabe noted the business community’s unanimous support for the new settlement. McCabe stated, “Our members believe that wider, deeper devolution in the North will benefit the entire region through stronger institutions, increased collaboration, and additional powers to drive robust, equitable growth.”

The expanded devolution settlement, encompassing seven local authorities across Northumberland, County Durham, and Tyne and Wear, could potentially bring £4.2 billion in investments, create 17,500 new jobs, and leverage £3.7 billion in private sector investments.

The Chamber’s submission views the devolution deal as a solid step towards local decision-making by individuals who best understand the region. This would enable more flexible and innovative responses to local needs. The Chamber recommends that the new combined authority prioritise transport and skills investments across the seven local authority areas and ensure a prominent business voice in new governance arrangements.

The proposed combined authority will encourage collaborative efforts across the North East and enable decisions that benefit the entire region while considering the unique characteristics of its towns, cities, coastal, and rural areas.

McCabe added that businesses are committed to driving growth, and the devolution deal provides the opportunity for the North East to have control over the foundations of future growth. Collaboration and communication with businesses and locals will enable the combined authority to understand community needs, and Chamber members eagerly anticipate engaging with the new authority.

The Chamber is currently working on understanding the skills system requirements of regional employers and will deliver Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPs) in the North of Tyne area and Tees Valley. The LSIPs will demonstrate that investment in affordable, integrated transport infrastructure and private sector partnerships will connect people with opportunities and drive inclusive economic growth.

Thomas Lonsdale, Chamber Knowledge and Research Executive, expressed enthusiasm for the region’s potential to take control of key decisions and the opportunity for the North East to take on more responsibilities. Lonsdale stated that the Chamber is committed to furthering the fairness, equality, and inclusivity objectives that underpin the deal.

Upon its establishment, the new authority, which will serve approximately two million residents, will have the power to make decisions regarding transport, skills, housing, finance, and economic development. The potential deal does not involve any changes to existing councils. A Mayoral election is expected in May 2024, followed by the formation of the new authority. The existing North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) and the separate North East Combined Authority (NECA) would be dissolved.


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