Cable ‘will not over-ride’ region’s wish to retain One North East THE region can keep a One North East-style body if it wants to, Business Secretary Vince Cable has said.

Speaking during a visit to the Corus-owned Teesside Beam Mill, in Lackenby, near Redcar, yesterday, Mr Cable said it was not his place to over-ride local feeling if there was the will to keep a single regional development agencystyle structure instead of individual Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) across the region.

The Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) are set to be replaced by Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) from April 2012.

The LEPs are expected to involve unitary authorities working together at a much more local level than One North East does at present.

But business leaders and local authorities in the region have both supported the need for a single regional body to oversee at least some of the North-East’s economic development.

When asked yesterday if the region could retain a single regional economic development body, similar to One North East, Mr Cable said it could if it was what local authorities and business groups wanted.

He said: “I think that may be a very sensible way to proceed.

“If there is a will to keep the region together then by all means put in for a local enterprise partnership along those lines.

“It is not for me to override local feeling.

“It is not for me to impose it.”

He added: “Both the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives were very sceptical of RDAs but we have acknowledged One North East did a good job.”

Mr Cable has been seen as supportive of the work of One North East compared to some of the other RDAs, and in June said: “I believe that the North-East is a region where business support through a regional agency is both necessary and appreciated.”

Mr Cable’s comments, came as The Association of North- East Councils (ANEC) and the Northern Business Forum (NBF) announced that they were collaborating to make a case for a single strategic economic body for the region.

Although they believed LEPs could deliver at local level there were areas where they believed a regional body was more appropriate, such as economic development around low-carbon vehicles, offshore wind, chemicals and process industries and bidding for, and managing, the European Regional Development Funds.

The NBF includes the North-East Chamber of Commerce whose chief executive James Ramsbotham, met Mr Cable at Teesside University yesterday.

He said: “We got the impression that he encouraged the North-East to come up with one LEP for the whole of the North-East and that he was quite clear that should be business led.”

Councillor Paul Watson, chairman of ANEC said: “We believe that it will be important to have a democratically accountable and business-led North-East partnership contributing to national thinking and achieving on the ground.”