Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Where Are Our City Ministers? PM under Fire for Not Keeping Promise

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Where Are Our City Ministers? PM under Fire for Not Keeping Promise

Article excerpt

Byline: William Green

DAVID Cameron has come under fire for failing to appoint ministers to the region's cities to lead economic growth.

It is now more than a year since the Prime Minister used his first major speech in office to promise the creation of ministers or senior MPs for big cities such as Newcastle, who would ensure Whitehall "blockages" to economic development were dealt with.

Mr Cameron vowed "to breathe economic life into the towns and cities outside the M25" during the speech made in Shipley, West Yorkshire, which set out his Government's economic blueprint.

However, there has been no progress on replacements for Labour's now-axed regional ministers amid the switch from regional development agencies (RDAs) to local enterprise partnerships (LEPS).

That is despite Mr Cameron repeatedly promising an announcement "shortly" on city ministers, in response to Parliamentary questions asked by Labour's former North East Minister Nick Brown over the past year.

Meanwhile the region has continued to struggle with the impact of public spending cuts, and growing unemployment.

Newcastle East MP Nick Brown said: "If the Prime Minister is committed to it, he should get on with it. I think it is a good idea, but he should implement it."

Referring to the Government, he added: "I really don't think they understand the North East of England.

"I would prefer a regional minister, but a minister focussed on the local enterprise partnership area or even individual cities would at least give us some person in Government would could take interest in our specific issues."

The idea of city ministers has also had backing from business leaders in the region. Andrew Sugden, director of policy at the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC), said: "We'd be really keen to see the coalition appoint city ministers. …

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