05 Oct 2016
DEVOLUTION still has the potential to shape the future prosperity of the North East, according to a leading law firm.
Companies across the region can really benefit from decisions being made closer to home, says Ward Hadaway, which organises the definitive run-down of the fastest growing companies in the region, the Ward Hadaway North East Fastest 50.
Jamie Martin (pictured), Managing Partner at Ward Hadaway, explained that despite the end last month to earlier plans involving all seven members of the North East Combined Authority, devolution remains very much a live issue in the economic and political life of the region.
Jamie said: “Whilst the initial agreement involving the Government and the North East Combined Authority may have fallen by the wayside, I believe devolution is very much alive and kicking. It may take a different form to the one originally outlined, but the concept and the ideas behind it remain.
“On a basic level, having more control over the decisions which shape our region – and the funding to help make them a reality – can only be beneficial to everyone in the North East, not just the businesses which help create the region’s prosperity but also the people who live here.
“That was something which everyone involved in the initial discussions to create North East devolution agreed on, from the local authorities to the business community.
“Whilst differences still remain over the way to achieve a viable devolution agreement and to bring greater control and funding over things like transport and skills, that desire has not gone away and in many respects is stronger still despite the failure of the initial agreement.”
The delivery of the first tranche of devolution funding to the Tees Valley Combined Authority demonstrated how devolution can work and is working, said Jamie.
He added: “Whilst some areas of the North East are now behind counterparts in other regions of the country when it comes to devolution, Tees Valley is forging ahead with its own agreement.
“Just last week, the Tees Valley Combined Authority was handed £15m of what is expected to be a total of £450m worth of funding with which it is looking to help fund its Strategic Economic Plan.
“The plan outlines a range of initiatives to boost the local economy and prospects for the area including supporting more young people to gain the skills required to progress into work, extending high speed broadband, developing cultural assets and the visitor economy and creating business cases for major infrastructure investments.
“All of these are crucial factors in helping to boost the local economy and to create, maintain and expand the kind of fast-growing companies found in the Ward Hadaway North East Fastest 50.
“I believe that seeing the idea of devolution working in practice like this will help to bring the process to other parts of the region and reach some form of agreement.
“It has been encouraging to see the North East Local Enterprise Partnership reiterate its willingness to help drive the economic development of the region forward and to keep channels of communication with Whitehall open and active.”
Last week, the Ward Hadaway North East Fastest 50 for 2016 was revealed with the A to Z list of the region’s fastest growing companies published.
Representatives from these companies, together with business leaders, will now gather for the Ward Hadaway Fastest 50 Awards 2016 on October 14 at BALTIC, the Centre for Contemporary Art, where the special guest and keynote speaker will be Sage Northern Europe Executive Vice President Jacqueline de Rojas.
At the event, awards will be given to the fastest growing small business, the fastest growing medium-sized business and the fastest growing large business with one of these three named the overall fastest growing business in the North East for 2016.
Jamie Martin said: “The achievements of the companies in this year’s Ward Hadaway North East Fastest 50 demonstrate the qualities of self-reliance, determination and endeavour that are the hallmarks of the people of this region.
“We have already shown how well we can do working with the current governing frameworks so I believe that giving us greater control over many of the decisions which affect our lives and our prosperity is surely the way forward for further success.”
* Find out more about the Fastest 50 Awards.