Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

DANGERS AHEAD; Prof's Warning over Switch to LEPs

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

DANGERS AHEAD; Prof's Warning over Switch to LEPs

Article excerpt

Byline: MIKE HUGHES

THE Teesside economy is in danger of grinding to a halt because of the loss of One North East and its replacement by Local Enterprise Partnerships. In a report in the 2011 North East Business Guide, Prof John Tomaney, of Newcastle University says knowledge vital to the area's economic progress is being dissipated by the way the Government is replacing ONE with local enterprise partnerships.

The North-east will be hard pressed to advance its economy at all once its regional development agency (RDA) is finally phased out, says Prof Tomaney, an expert on regional development.

In a blistering attack on the Government's regional strategy - and the North-east's response to it - he describes the dismantling of One North East as "retrograde."

He says: "Many criticisms can be made of RDAs. I've made some myself. But on the whole this region has benefited from having a single agency capable of intervening in local and regional economic development.

"What's replacing One North East is massive uncertainty - very unhelpful for the region. The way the agency is being run down and expertise and knowledge is being dissipated - as also the way we have failed to find a common response in the region - is deeply disappointing."

Prof Tomaney says: "As the new partnerships for the region, one for Teesside and the other for elsewhere, will have little resource, and very little power in the foreseeable future, maybe not too much damage has been caused by the delays beforehand. But we have told a story for so long of our regional cohesiveness. There's a danger we'll fragment - punch below our weight. The case for some North-east wide economic partnership is still very compelling.

"It's very important for the Government to crystallise its intentions, and for the North-east to have a very clear and single voice on these, able to prioritise and stress what's important rather than to squabble over the local distribution of what will be a small pot of money. …

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