Business chiefs say no quick fix to economy after Lord Heseltine’s report

Jonathan Arnott of UKIP.
Jonathan Arnott of UKIP.

A business chief says there is no quick fix after Lord Heseltine unveiled his recommendations to revamp the local economy.

The former Deputy Prime Minister was on Teesside yesterday to announce the findings of his report to help the Tees Valley economy to grow.

Michael Heseltine

Michael Heseltine

The North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) says Lord Heseltine’s ambitions for the region should be possible if businesses and organisations work together with support from central government.

Rachel Anderson, head of policy and representation, at the NECC said: “We welcome Lord Heseltine’s fair assessment of Tees Valley’s economy as it stands and realise there can be no silver bullet in terms of a quick fix.

“We also welcome the challenges he has set for us with regard to education, business and partnership working to help our economy thrive.

“Lord Heseltine promised to open doors in Whitehall for the Tees Valley and there is already evidence this is happening.

We realise there can be no silver bullet in terms of a quick fix

North East Chamber of Commerce

“His vision and recommendations should be deliverable with all of the organisations and businesses working together. Although we recognise this is just the start of the process, it is positive.”

North East Euro MP Jonathan Arnott, of Ukip, has given a cautious welcome to Lord Heseltine’s report.

Mr Arnott said he has always been particularly fervent about the need for employment and development in the region, particularly following losses in the steel industry.

“I would love to believe that Lord Heseltine’s 90 page report will actually bring about the economic boost the area so desperately needs,” said Mr Arnott.

“Whilst the report isn’t perfect, he has managed to identify some positive steps forward which could help local people, particularly in Redcar.

“Whether or not our Conservative government is likely to act on this report is the big unanswered question. They have a lot of work to do to counter the local air of cynicism about the so-called Northern Powerhouse.

“It was a huge focus of the campaign to get them elected, but local people are more interested in actual tangible investment and jobs – until now the Northern Powerhouse has been seen by many as little more than a spin doctor’s catchy phrase masking the reality of under investment and lack of interest in the North East.”

Lord Heseltine’s proposals include the establishment of a new development corporation to combine business advice and support currently offered by several bodies.

Universities are urged to work with local employers to see if a local technical college would address the skills gap.

The Tees Valley Local Enterprise Partnership and new Combined Authority should also work with employers and schools to promote and increase the number of apprenticeships.

The Government commissioned Lord Heseltine to carry out the five-month review of the Tees Valley in the wake of the closure of the SSI steelworks last year when 1,700 people lost their jobs.