A FAR more positive North East Shadow MPC meeting voted for the interest rate to remain at the current 0.75 per cent, with one member advocating a small cut but no appetite for a rise in rates at this time.

The MPC is a partnership between The Northern Echo and Darlington Building Society, which considers the state of the region’s economy and gives experts from a variety of sectors the opportunity to argue their case for a shift, or hold, in the rate.

Christopher White of Darlington Building Society was in favour of a rate hold. He said: “The mortgage market quietened at the end of last year and into this year, probably with a seasonal impact but with the election over and the January 31 deadline approaching we’re hopeful it will pick up. Lenders are adjusting their pricing in a very competitive market. The savings market is very difficult for people where the returns aren’t great – that’s a challenging environment.”

Catriona Lingwood, of the trade body Constructing Excellence was also in favour of holding rates.

She said: “We have a few issues in the built environment at the moment. The upside is infrastructure with the HS2 review. The government has said it’s going to put a lot of money into infrastructure and that’s really positive.”

Jonathan Willett, director of Henderson Insurance Brokers, said: “Insurers are looking for a marginal increase and have probably been doing so for the last six months. From a local point of view, last time it was fairly negative but British Steel negotiations seem to be on a fairly positive note and the Sirius Minerals Anglo American deal will hopefully have a good effect on our area.”

But Paul Gibson, director and chartered financial planner at Active Chartered Financial Planners once again voted for a cut in the interest rate saying: “I do feel that some of the uncertainty has been lifted. We know what government there is going to be for the next five years and what direction they are taking regarding Brexit.

“For a confident economy we should consider a rate cut to put us in synch with the rest of the world. With a note of caution that any cut is a short-term fix.”

Graham Robb, senior partner at Recognition PR, said: “I don’t agree with Paul about an interest rate reduction but I do agree with his analysis of the economy, that a lot of the negative figures in the economy are in the rear view mirror. I don’t think there’s an appetite for putting rates up yet, but I don’t agree with putting rates down because there are some things that would be affected if the pound went down. There are a lot of imports and I wouldn’t like to see these exports go up in price.”

Daniel Williams, solicitor at Latimer Hinks, said: “From an interest rate point of view, if you’re increasing demand, you’re not going to want to increase interest rates because increasing demand, people and businesses are going to want to borrow. The only tool we’ve really got for the time being is interest rates, so I think it’s a case of leaving things as they are.”

Jonathan Lamb, chief executive, Entrepreneurs’ Forum, said: “Members of the Forum tend to be optimistic people by nature but particularly over the last month and a half, there’s even more reasons to be optimistic. The core economic data is pretty solid, so it has to be a pretty special case for making a change either way as most of the basics seem to be right.”