North of Tyne leaders agree new vision and early funding opportunities as combined authority gets down to business
North of Tyne leaders have taken their first significant actions as a combined authority – including the adoption of an exciting new vision document and early priorities to improve the lives of local people.
The newly-vested North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) hosted its first cabinet meeting in Morpeth this afternoon (November 8).
Members from all three constituent councils voted to approve the authority’s new vision; a key strategic document which sets out the objectives and six key priorities, as well as a commitment to build a more dynamic and inclusive local economy.
They agreed to support a number of early funding opportunities including grants to attract new businesses and support existing ones; a growth fund for rural communities; and projects to improve STEM and digital skills among young people.
There was also a pledge to work with the Department for Transport on a business case that would unlock the economic growth and regeneration potential of a new passenger service on the Northumberland-North Tyneside-Newcastle Rail Line.
The vision document, entitled ‘Home of Ambition’, was drawn up over several months using a detailed economic profile of the North of Tyne area together with feedback from key stakeholders.
It will provide a touchstone for everything the authority hopes to achieve and will give strategic direction and guidance on the use of the newly-devolved £600m Investment Fund over 30 years.
The document available at www.northoftynedevolution.com outlines six key priorities or ‘pillars of ambition’:
- Champion of enterprise
Securing investment, fostering trade links and creating the infrastructure needed for sustained growth and prosperity
- Leaders of tomorrow
Supporting a high quality, inclusive education system to ensures young people have the skills and qualifications to take up quality training, apprenticeships and jobs
- Hotbed of talent
Giving everyone the opportunity to thrive, attain a fair wage and access good jobs with continued training and skills development
- Spark of innovation
Supporting businesses and entrepreneurs to grow and flourish
- Network of connections
Developing a better transport system and investing in an ever faster digital infrastructure to create stronger links across the North and internationally
- Pride of place
Creating communities of inspiring places, homes and spaces that support more sustainable, low carbon futures, set within an environment where people want to live, work or visit
The early Investment Fund opportunities aligned to the six pillars of ambition include:
- An inward investment fund to attract foreign and UK businesses to invest and create jobs in the North of Tyne area
- A growth fund supporting rural communities to thrive
- A project to help young people gain the STEM and digital skills they need to succeed in the modern economy
- A new partnership to help social housing tenants and people who provide care for others step back into work
Other projects were invited to further develop their plans and apply for business case development funding:
- Local full fibre network proposal
- North Shields town centre redevelopment / Fish Quay
- Energy Central Learning Hub in Blyth: skills training to create opportunities in the offshore and energy sector
- A targeted employment service for areas of high unemployment in Newcastle
Other actions at the meeting saw portfolio roles assigned to cabinet members (see notes to editor) and an agreement on the process to appoint an interim mayor, before a Mayoral election is held in May 2019.
Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “Today we take another step forward in our mission to create more and better jobs for people in Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland.
“This devolution deal is a great tool in our bid to take powers and funding decisions out of London and put them in the hands of people here in the North East. We have more work to do, but this is a significant moment in our devolution journey.
“We want to show the nation and beyond that this is a great place to invest in, to live in or to visit, and whether it’s promoting our tourism industry or kick starting a new digital revolution, we now have a much greater say over our own destiny.
“I look forward to securing real change and giving people here a real say over how our region grows.”
North Tyneside’s Elected Mayor, Norma Redfearn CBE: “This is what we’ve been working towards for a long time. Our new vision document is an inspiring piece of work which sets the tone for a prosperous new future - and the projects we have identified at this early stage are a good match for those priorities.
“The transfer of new powers and funds to the North of Tyne from London enables us to be the masters of our own destiny, using local knowledge to make decisions that reflect the needs and aspirations of our residents and businesses as we strive to build a stronger economic future.”
Peter Jackson, Leader of Northumberland County Council: "There are so many opportunities ahead of us and it’s wonderful to be able to unveil our priorities to improve the lives of people across the region.
“From long-term strategic ambitions to a range of area-specific projects, this is the beginning of a bright new era for growth, investment and improvements throughout the North of Tyne.”