For too long the North East local areas and counties have fought each other like ferrets in a sack. The best example is the 4 separate applications for the Green Investment Bank, when Central Government invited bids for the location of the Green Investment Bank. So I am delighted that the Journal today reports the region coming together and supporting the 7 Local Authorities agreeing to act as one combined Noirth East Authority in order to:
- Pitch for big government and other infrastructure projects
- Make a concerted joined up case to big businesses and overseas investors
- Speak as one on key issues like apprenticeships, devolution and job creation
- And work towards both better transport infrastructure and an integrated transport policy - and the ultimate goal of an Oyster card universal payment system for transport across the region, as so successfully launched in London and the South East.
There is a model for this and this is Greater Manchester - which leads the way in joined up governnment. The Journal has covered this here today as follows:
Two final points: firstly, it is important that this process frees up Unitary and County Councils to focus on the provision and delivery of core services - and not spend their time making 4 individual pitches for the Green Investment Bank, for example; I believe this will happen; and I made the case that this change must not lead to a loss of rural services, in particular rural bus services; myself and Councillors are working very hard to ensure that rural connectivity is not lost.