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Dave Laws, NECC president, says region must work together
A NORTH-EAST business leader says the region must unite to galvanise the economy and dispel worries of an internal North-South divide.
Dave Laws, president of the North-East Chamber of Commerce (NECC), says it is vital the area uses the power of the Tees Valley Unlimited (TVU) and North-East (NELep) local enterprise partnerships.
Mr Laws, who is also chief executive of Newcastle International Airport, will meet business and energy minister Michael Fallon on Monday (September 16) to give the Tees Valley a stronger voice in Westminster.
He says that goal will be significantly helped if the region brings its two local enterprise partnerships (Leps) closer together, which would boost the economy and create new jobs.
Earlier this year, worries were raised of a North-East split after a NELep-commissioned report by Labour peer, Lord Andrew Adonis, which revealed plans to create 60,000 new jobs and increase apprenticeships, was accused of ignoring the Tees Valley.
Mr Laws called for a unified regional force at last night's (Friday, September 13) NECC Tees Valley annual dinner, in Middlesbrough.
He said: “We need a common strategy and common voice because being disparate and fragmented will be a barrier to success and give others the opportunity to say we are not cohesive.
“We have to accept that we have two Leps in our region and that this will prevail for the foreseeable future.
“In the area covered by NELep, the local authorities are in the process of forming a combined authority, which should be applauded and strongly supported.
“In the Tees Valley, local authorities have a long tradition of working closely together, so within these two areas things are starting to come together.
“However, we should also encourage the two to work closely together on common themes for the benefit of the region.”
Mr Laws, who took over presidency of the business membership organisation from John Mowbray, said the Tees Valley harboured a number of key projects, which will play a key role in the North-East's economy.
He said: “The Tees Valley is of enormous importance to the rest of the North-East, and there are many exciting developments, including Air Products' waste-to-energy plant, in Billingham, near Stockton, and Hitachi's train building factory, in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.
“We must work together across boundaries, across sectors and differences of opinion, so that we are heard, and can re-ignite the transformation of our region and allow it to fulfil its potential.”
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