Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Maintain Confidence in Our Own Ambitions

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Maintain Confidence in Our Own Ambitions

Article excerpt

Byline: Barry Jackson

NEWCASTLE is a city that celebrates infrastructure - for proof, just look to the bridges. The Tyne Bridge and Gateshead Millennium Bridge, opened over 70 years apart, represent the city. One grand and green, the other sleek and modern, both show that we are - and always have been - confident in ourselves.

However, we must maintain this level of ambition. Nationally, Britain needs significant investment in its infrastructure to maintain and grow its stature in a post-Brexit world. The upcoming Autumn Statement is the perfect opportunity to make this happen.

Philip Hammond has made a tentative commitment to this, ruling out a 'splurge' but signalling investment in 'productivity-enhancing infrastructure.' . Elsewhere, the Heathrow announcement shows a country serious about infrastructure.

For Newcastle residents, investment in infrastructure is likely to be less glamorous and could mean the dualling of the A1 from here to Scotland. Nevertheless, such a commitment could be transformative for the city, and not just when it's completed.

During construction, projects like this provide a huge boost to service suppliers who are contracted to help with construction and delivery. Often, the temptation can be to choose big international names for these jobs, helping a few select companies cement their position at the top.

Instead, we need confidence in ourselves and in our businesses. There are scores of small and mid-sized British firms with the potential to deliver the services that these projects need, from highly technical manufacturing through to big construction.

These companies deserve to win contracts from the government and should be given confidence in their ability to scale up and deliver them. This can transform not just businesses but their local communities. …

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