NECC chief calls on government to promote localism
The Chief Executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce is calling on the government to do more to promote localism after the second round of Regional Growth Funding was announced yesterday.
It has today been announced that the second round of Regional Growth Fund (RGF) will directly and indirectly create 26,000 jobs in the region, but James Ramsbotham has expressed concerns over the way funding is shared out.
Politicians in Westminster are in charge of the money, but have no knowledge of the needs of different individual regions. This could mean that some businesses are still set to miss out.
“The government promised to promote localism, but how will the money be shared out fairly to where it is really needed from a central location – how do they know best?” he commented.
“The Regional Development Agencies (RDA) were based in the area they serve so could appreciate the needs of their individual localities.
“While the Local Enterprise Partnerships can fill this void to an extent, the government still may not listen to their needs.”
One North East was one of the more successful Regional Development Agencies, and at its peak had around three times more funding to support the region than the current regime.
“While some things were unnecessary, others were very important – such as the ‘Passionate People, Passionate Places’, campaign which helped to bring business to the North East – and there’s none of that at the moment,” he continued.
“The businesses who have received support are good businesses and the funding will help them further achieve their ambitions.
“On the other side however, many of these businesses could quite well have found success by themselves anyway.”
Mr Ramsbotham is now calling on the government to turn their focus towards other areas, including training and infrastructure, which are vital to support Regional Growth Funding.
“The RGF was a reactive measure in response to the closure of the RDA’s, and had no obvious strategic approach, and by failing to invest in infrastructure and skills, any investment in the North East will be wasted.
“We are the only area of the country not connected to any other by a motorway, we are currently at risk of being left in the slow lane with high speed rail, and air passenger duty is set to affect regional airports more than Gatwick and Heathrow.”