Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

You Can Be a Battering Ram for Change; Former Deputy Prime Minister Urges the Northern Regions to Unite and Win a Better Deal

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

You Can Be a Battering Ram for Change; Former Deputy Prime Minister Urges the Northern Regions to Unite and Win a Better Deal

Article excerpt

Byline: Rachel Wearmouth Regional Affairs Correspondent rachel.wearmouth@ncjmedia.co.uk

THE North can become a "battering ram for change" if it unites as one regional power, former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott today claims.

The Labour politician also made a call to the North East not to allow its rejection of a regional assembly - 10 years ago next month - to be used by the Government as a reason not to devolve power.

Lord Prescott said the region could be granted the spending power to upgrade the A1 and to work with Scotland as a region if it could wrestle control from Whitehall as the North, a region he says should span from Liverpool to Newcastle.

He added the North East must come together with the North West. He said: "I think the redefining of the North is a big question "This is my view: the North must run from Liverpool to Newcastle.

"We should use those nine million people in the region of the North and really become a battering ram for change."

His call comes in the wake of the Scottish Independence Referendum as the Government draws up plans for the devolution of powers.

"If the North East does not get its act together this time, it is going to lose out again," he said.

"Do not be used by this Government to say the regions have rejected more power and more resources.

Scotland has been given more taxraising powers, more borrowing powers and development, and what have we got here? Maybe city regions that would be an extension of councils.

"We have got to have a regional power with a real northern demand."

He said the A1 could be upgraded under a regional power while national politicians would defer to quangos and feasibility studies.

He said: "If the A1 became an important regional investment - necessary for Newcastle, for Scotland and to develop the local economy - then you don't build it based on how many lorries there are, you build it because it is strategically necessary. …

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