MP slams Con-Dems regional plans

AN MP has criticised Government strategy in future development of the region.

Easington MP Grahame Morris says the Government is cutting resources for regional development by at least two thirds.

Mr Morris says One North East, the regional development agency for the North-East, which covers east Durham and Hartlepool, is being abolished and replaced by unfunded Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).

He added that regional development agencies received around £1.4bn each year, but he said LEPs, two of which will cover the whole of the North-East, will not have any funding and will have to join the queue to apply for grants from the Regional Growth Fund, which stands at only £1.4bn over three years.

The £1.4bn fund will also have to be used to plug the gaps where Government funding has been cut, claims the MP.

Mr Morris added that LEPs will have no start-up funding, no core funding, no guaranteed access to the Regional Growth Fund and no new legal powers and some areas are also likely to be left uncovered and without any local support.

He said: “Over the next two years, when it is crucial to ensure growth, businesses will be unsure of where to go to discuss key investments, key infrastructure issues and major planning issues.

“The Government has abolished our regional development agency, One North East, and have cut funding for regional development by two thirds.

“During the transition period between the regional development agencies going out and Local Enterprise Partnerships coming in, there will also be a vacuum, and we will not be able to encourage investment or secure the regeneration jobs that we require.”

The announcement to abolish the nine regional development agencies across the council was revealed by Chancellor George Osborne during the budget last year.

In his Budget speech, Mr Osborne said that the British economy had become “deeply unbalanced” with “disparities” between job creation.

He said a new approach was needed “that empowers local leadership, generates local economic growth, and promotes job creation in all parts of the country”.