Warning that region is losing out to others

North East business leader David Harrison.
North East business leader David Harrison.

A leading businessman has warned that the North East is losing out ‘in a competition for scarce resources’ due to ‘petty local political in-fighting’.

David Harrison is the managing partner of Newcastle-based financial services group, True Potential LLP, which employs 137 staff at its Newburn headquarters.

Writing in a report for the Policy North think-tank, Mr Harrison said: “The North East has been my home since I was a child growing up in County Durham.

“I have worked locally in manufacturing and construction and, for the last three decades, in financial services.

“We have some tremendous assets, with a rich industrial heritage, buoyant tourism industry and dedicated workforce with real grit and determination. But we should demand more and strive for better.

“Given our relatively small size, the region should be nimble, agile and entrepreneurial. But we are fragmented, bureaucratic in our approach and petty local political in-fighting is rife.”

In his report for Policy North, Mr Harrison also issues an urgent call for ‘better, faster transport connections’ especially to London.

Mr Harrison said: “Now that local political leaders have shamefully failed to agree a devolution deal, we will miss out on £1billion for the region. Funds are and will remain tight, so where should the priority be?

“Past governments should have invested in high-speed trains, while recent efforts and HS2 appear again to have a north-west bias under current plans, missing out our region where the stimulus is really needed.”

Last week, we reported that a devolution deal could be back on, but only involving the three councils that backed the deal last month – Northumberland, North Tyneside and Newcastle – although formal discussions haven’t begun.