Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Business Chiefs Call for Council Unity; Single Body 'Needed to Win Investment'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Business Chiefs Call for Council Unity; Single Body 'Needed to Win Investment'

Article excerpt

Byline: Adrian Pearson Regional Affairs Correspondent? 0191 201 6286 ?

SOME of the region's biggest land owners have called for Nick Clegg to force through changes needed to end territorial council infighting.

A group of multi-million pound property firms have said a review of the North East economy due to be handed to the Deputy Prime Minister this spring must call on council leaders to set up a single combined authority.

The review, chaired by former Transport Secretary Lord Adonis, will set out what Government and those in the region need to do with limited resources to turn around the North East economy.

Today firms across the region say that with councils in Manchester and Leeds forming legally binding authorities, the seven North East councils must be told - or forced to - go down the same route.

Such a move could ultimately see, for example, taxpayers in Newcastle forced to take on the risk of major regeneration spending in Sunderland, and vice versa, as the days of a Tyne and Wear County Council return.

Leading those calls is Adam Serfontein, chair of the influential Developing Consensus group and head of the Hanro group responsible for a PS150m property portfolio including much of the land around St James' Park.

He warns today that unless the region copies the Greater Manchester model, the North East risks losing out to other United Kingdom cities.

In a call for a 'Greater Newcastle', potentially extending from Durham to Berwick, Mr Serfontein said: "We need one body responsible for bringing in inward investment in the region.

"We can argue about where it goes when we get that investment, but right now we are not winning those jobs.

"The North East Economic Review gives us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to punch above our weight and the way to do that is having one inward investment team for the region. …

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