Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North East 'Could Still Be Part of Powerhouse Plan'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North East 'Could Still Be Part of Powerhouse Plan'

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Kelly Reporter

ONE of the men behind the Northern Powerhouse Partnership which yesterday outlined its ambitious PS100bn plan to turn the region into a global economic force says the North East could still claim its place in the scheme.

The NPP was set up by George Osborne in September after he lost his job as Chancellor, and on its board is Lord Jim O'Neill.

At the launch of its first report in Leeds there were name checks for Manchester, Liverpool and even Sheffield. For Newcastle, there was one rather truncated mention.

Asked why the region was conspicuous by its absence in proceedings, Lord O'Neill said he was conscious at times the Northern Powerhouse concept seemed Manchester-centric - his home city.

But he added: "When you think of the broader Northern Powerhouse, particularly your part of the world, I dreamt of calling it, I think it was 'Leeds-New-Hull-Sheff'. Leeds is a very important place to help bring some of that perception you have up there of being a bit isolated to a different position." Lord O'Neill said it was important to get the message to the people of the region to "not treat this as a hurdle that is insurmountable to making the North East a full part of this Northern Powerhouse.

"Ultimately that has to come from the ambition and desire of the people from the North East."

Mr Osborne spoke at the event which was attended by a number of business people and local politicians.

He denied that the Northern Powerhouse concept, with which his name has been so closely linked, would be shunned now he was not in the Cabinet.

"There was a big piece in the autumn statement (by his replacement Philip Hammond) about the Northern Powerhouse and Theresa May talked about the importance of it," he said. "This organisation is officially entering into a partnership with the government. …

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