Steel supporter

Andrew Steel, Assistant Principal, Hartlepool College and Further Education.
Andrew Steel, Assistant Principal, Hartlepool College and Further Education.

A HARTLEPOOL Mail-backed campaign was today praised for addressing issues which are important to the town’s skills needs.

Andrew Steel, the assistant principal at Hartlepool College of Further Education, became the latest supporter of NEvolution.

Its aim is to get Whitehall to grant more power to the region to make its own decisions, especially on skills, transport and funding.

Mr Steel said it was important that the campaign ensured the skills needs of the area were catered for, and that the likes of Hartlepool College of Further Education got a chance to work closer with employers.

He added: “I am quite pro this really. Policies being made in London do not necessarily take into account some of the differences and skills needs, and economic needs, in this region.”

He said the North-East has some deficiencies in skills which could be addressed by having more devolved power. Mr Steel said: “There are areas where we can try and address this whereas national policy does not.”

Mr Steel cited the offshore industry where more power at a local level would help.

“There are companies coming to us and saying people have got basic fabric welding skills but they want to develop more specific skills.

“We need to be able to respond to requests to upskill staff. If we can have something to work closer with key employers, we can really get to grips what the needs are and respond quicker.”

Everyone from business bosses to council officials, and regeneration agency chiefs to college officials have back NEvolution in Hartlepool.

The timing of NEvolution, which is backed by most of the newspapers in the North East, is all-important. Its aim is to lobby Chancellor George Osborne and positively influence the outcome of the Spending Review, announced on Wednesday, June 26.

It will highlight that this is the only UK region with net balance of trade. The Spending Review will cover government expenditure from April 2015 onwards.

But by June 26, we hope our campaign will show to Westminster it should take up the points recommended in the Heseltine Report, published in November.

Lord Heseltine was asked to look into ways of improving the economies of English cities.

He recommended devolving power to the English regions in his report, called No Stone Unturned.