The Future of Regional Banking

A high profile event on Tyneside will debate the future of regional banking – a subject seen as central to a radical reform of UK banking.

The event will bring together the founder of the only new entrant to the retail banking market and the government minister leading the drive to encourage local banks, together with senior financial regulators, a director of Deutscher Sparkassen, the German savings bank, and local businesses. It will take place at the Baltic Centre, Gateshead Quays on Friday 7 June.

Anthony Thomson, founder and former chairman of Metro Bank, the first new bank on the high street in over 100 years, and Greg Clark MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, will speak about the challenges and opportunities of creating a new bank which will deal solely with regionally-based businesses, organisations and individuals. The event has been organised by IPPR North with support from the North East LEP and the Financial Services Forum.

The Adonis Economic Review, commissioned by the North East LEP, recommended that the LEP area should explore the potential for the establishment of a regional business bank to meet the needs of local companies.

Alongside Anthony Thomson and Greg Clark MP, speakers at the event include Sam Woods, Director, Domestic UK Banks Division, Prudential Regulatory Authority; Victoria Raffe, Director, Authorisations, Financial Conduct Authority; Jeremy Middleton, chair of the North East LEP’s investment panel; Sarah Green, Director North East CBI and Dr Thomas Keidel, Director and Head of Financial Market Relations, Deutscher Sparkassen.

The speakers will also answer questions from the audience in a panel chaired by Guy Opperman MP, to discuss the pros and cons of regional banking.

Anthony Thomson, who revolutionised retail banking when he founded Metro Bank, believes that the UK needs to enter into a new era of banking competition. Regional banks could offer more competition, consumer choice, credit for companies, stimulate growth and help rebalance the economy.

The North East LEP is supporting the event, and Jeremy Middleton, chair of the LEP’s investment panel, is a strong advocate for a North East based bank.

He said: “Access to finance across the North East LEP area is seen as a barrier to growth by many businesses. We want to encourage expansion of growing companies. A regional bank would understand the needs of the region and be able to react effectively, unblocking financial bottlenecks that frustrate business owners.”

“I’m delighted that Anthony Thomson and Greg Clark – both originally from the North East – are actively involved in debating this important topic. Regional banking is identified as a recommendation by the Adonis review to help local businesses large and small access finance efficiently.”

Banking Minister Greg Clark recently said: “I should like very much to see banks in our great regional cities, as used to be the case: banks that can take deposits from local people and, knowing what local investment opportunities they have in the area, can establish a connection.”

Director of IPPR North Ed Cox said: “We are really pleased to be organising this event with colleagues from across the North East. Regional banks could play a key role in stimulating local economic development and rebalancing our national economy. As our report ‘Northern Prosperity is National Prosperity’ showed – the north has a huge economic contribution to make and regional banks are a great way to drive this.”

The event is free and will take place from 10.30am-2.30pm including a buffet lunch at the Baltic Centre, Gateshead on Friday 7 June. Anyone interested in attending should e-mail Jacqueline Wills via [email protected] Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Further information from Christine Holland, Holland PR & Marketing Ltd Tel 01670 790246 or 07711 698246. Email: [email protected]

Growing Places Fund Revives Business Park Scheme in Washington

A £1.2m scheme to transform a brownfield site in Washington into a thriving business park, creating 112 jobs, has been revived after securing a cash injection from the Growing Places Fund.

Teal Farm Park initially secured planning consent in 2007, and the first phase of the project was completed shortly afterwards. However, due to the recession, further development of the site had to be shelved.

Now, the speculative development is set to be completed after its developer, land and property regeneration specialist Hellens Group, won £200,000 backing from the multi-million pound Growing Places Fund, managed by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership.

Teal Farm Park, which is being developed on derelict former industrial land in Washington, has already created 124 jobs through its first phase, and a further 112 are expected to be created once the scheme completes. Once finished, there will be two ‘terraces’ of industrial units on the site, and construction of the second terrace is expected to begin in June.

Washington-based Hellens Group turned to the government’s Growing Places Fund after being refused funding by banks to complete the project, despite fully letting the first phase of Teal Farm Park within two years. The Growing Places Fund, managed by the North East LEP offers loans to kick start the growth of infrastructure, housing and economic development schemes which have stalled in the economic climate. The evergreen fund reinvests loans to help further projects.

Gavin Cordwell-Smith, chief executive of the Hellens Group, said: “Teal Farm Park will be a very important site for Washington, and is one of the first speculative industrial developments in the whole of the North East since the credit crunch. It will be significant in terms of attracting new businesses to the town, and also for the employment and investment that accompanies that.

“We are very grateful to the Growing Places Fund and the North East LEP for making it possible for us to go ahead with the second phase. Despite successfully constructing and letting the first phase, the banks refused to give us any funding, meaning that, being an SME ourselves, we were unable to complete the project. Now, we look forward to the completion of the site, and the benefits to Washington and the region that will bring.”

Jeremy Middleton, chair of the North East LEP’s investment panel, said: “The Growing Places fund was established to help create new jobs and economic growth by unlocking the potential of projects which stalled due to the economic climate.

“Teal Farm Park is exactly the sort of development which we are able to support, and I am very pleased that the fund has enabled the Hellens Group to look towards its completion. The first phase has had a very positive impact on the local economy, and I am confident the completed development will thrive.”

For more information contact Christine Holland, Holland PR & Marketing Ltd. Tel 01670 790246 or 07711 698246.

Rural Growth in the North East

Opportunities for economic growth in the rural areas of Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and County Durham will be debated at an event on Friday 1 February at Kirkley Hall, Ponteland which has attracted leading regional names in both private and public sectors as speakers and delegates.

The event is part of the North East LEP’s North East Economic Review, led by Lord Adonis.

Speakers include Lord Don Curry, chairman of NFU Mutual Insurance, Northumberland farmer and member of the North East economic review team, Frances Rowe from the Centre for Rural Economy and Institute for Social Renewal, Richard Baker of RBLS Consulting and Professor Keith Shaw from Northumbria University.

It is being hosted by Northumberland County Council. Councillor Jeff Reid, leader of the County Council and board member of the North East LEP will open the seminar.

Councillor Reid said: ‘This event, which is a key part of the North East LEP’s economic review, is a fantastic opportunity for rural stakeholders to identify new ways to boost the North East economy overall. We are pleased to be hosting over forty delegates including representatives from the business, public and the community sector. Key Government partners will also be in attendance.

“Our focus will be on ensuring this debate helps to get the right messages about rural growth into the final recommendations of the economic review that Lord Adonis will present to the Government.”

Opportunities for growth in the rural economy will be discussed by Frances Rowe, and Richard Baker will explore rural economies in their wider context. Lord Don Curry will give a presentation on the North East independent economic review.

Lord Curry and Edward Twiddy, director of the North East LEP will sum up the morning’s conclusions and set out next steps in the economic review.

The North East LEP commissioned an economic review, led by Lord Adonis, to look at the long term economic growth in the area to 2030. Lord Adonis and the review team will produce a concise report in Spring 2013 setting out five policy recommendations for the North East LEP, five policy recommendations for key LEP partners in the North East, and five policy recommendations for central government.

Further information from Christine Holland, Holland PR & Marketing Ltd. Tel 01670 790246 or 07711 698246.

The impact of NE land markets and development on economic growth

An event chaired by Lord Don Curry to discuss land markets in the North East LEP area brought together key property professionals in the public and private sectors in January at Durham Town Hall. The debate fed into the North East LEP’s North East Economic Review’s evidence base.

High calibre delegates from business and local authorities aimed to identify the pressures on housing, office, industrial, retail and renewable energy development which impact on viability and deliverability of schemes across Northumberland, County Durham and Tyne and Wear.

The event asked what are the key issues for housing, office, industrial, retail and renewable energy developments now and in the future, and what measures need to be put in place to overcome these.

Delegates also looked at how land markets and developments contribute to economic growth in the North East area and ask where the strategic locations for development should be located across the North East LEP area moving forward?

Lord Curry is a member of the review team of the North East Economic Review, chaired by Lord Adonis. He is chairman of the NFU Mutual Insurance, and was formerly a Defra sustainable food and farming adviser. He also advised Waitrose/John Lewis on food and agriculture issues. He has a 440 acre farm in Northumberland.

Speakers at the day-long event included Philip Barnes, Newcastle Office Leader, NLP and Neil Graham, Head of Economic Assets NE, Homes and Communities Agency. Adam Serfontein, managing director, Hanro Group, Caroline Strugnell, planning manager, Bellway Homes, David Furniss, Head of the Newcastle office of BNP Paribas and Miles Crossley, Business Development Manager, Banks Group will lead sessions during the event.

Professor Henry Overman, a member of the Economic Review’s expert panel of distinguished academics and researchers, will also be speaking at the event. Professor Overman heads economic geography at the London School of Economics and is director of the Spatial Economics Research Centre.

Paul Woolston, chair of the North East LEP said: “This was a key event in our series of seminars which bring together the region’s businesses to provide evidence for the economic review. Developments across the area face challenges of an elongated economic downturn, and this seminar will undoubtedly spark lively debate about the way forward for land markets and development in our area.”

The North East LEP commissioned an economic review, led by Lord Adonis, to look at the long term economic growth in the area to 2030. Lord Adonis and the review team will produce a concise report in Spring 2013 setting out five policy recommendations for the North East LEP, five policy recommendations for key LEP partners in the North East, and five policy recommendations for central government.

The expert panel is reviewing and assessing evidence in six cross cutting themes, framed to meet the strategic objectives of the North East LEP. These are:- the North East in UK, European and global markets, labour markets and skills, infrastructure and land markets, private and social enterprise, capital markets and public policy.

Further information from Christine Holland, Holland PR & Marketing Ltd. Tel 01670 790246 OR 07711 698246.

North East LEP allocated £30M from regional growth fund

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership has been allocated £30 million from the Regional Growth Fund to develop an infrastructure fund. By targeting those projects with the greatest economic returns the fund aims to create at least 2,300 new jobs over 10 years.

The North East LEP will lever in matched funding from the private sector and bring together other monies under its local control, including the North East LEP’s existing £25m Growing Places Fund, to maximise its ability to unlock strategic infrastructure investments across County Durham, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear.

The North East LEP’s infrastructure fund (NEIF) will be open to private sector and public sector applicants. Decisions will be made according to criteria which will reflect the economic returns from the investment whilst also taking into account the benefits to the least advantaged communities.

Information on how to apply and the criteria against which bids will be assessed will be issued in time for the fund to begin spending in the next financial year. In the meantime the North East LEP’s call for projects to apply to its existing Growing Places Fund remains open until Friday 9th November 2012.

The success of the bid reflects the joint working of all the local authorities with the North East LEP team during an intense bid-writing period in early June, supported pro bono by PwC’s local and national teams.

This joint and collaborative approach is already paying significant dividends in other areas such as the Enterprise Zone, and the LEP Board remains committed to strengthening the relationships that underpin this success.

Speaking about the success of the RGF bid Paul Woolston, chair of the North East LEP said: “Timely and targeted infrastructure development is at the heart of a thriving, outward looking regional economy. The RGF support for NELEP’s infrastructure fund recognises that private and public investment is critical to realise opportunities in the area.

“The fund will create more than 2,333 new jobs in the North East over its lifetime and bring £30m of immediate investment into the region. NELEP’s investment panel will welcome applications from private and public partners and offer a mix of grant where necessary but predominantly will be focusing on extending the scope and term of its loan funding.”

Cllr Simon Henig, deputy chair of the North East LEP said: “The infrastructure fund will shape future investment in the region’s key sectors, helping us to grow our international presence in offshore, automotive, digital, professional and business areas.

“Public and private sectors will benefit from the wide-ranging remit of this fund. It will help to drive the economy not only of this area, but of the UK. I’m delighted that through strong joint working the LEP will be supporting even more investment to boost jobs and growth.”

Further information from Christine Holland, Holland PR & Marketing Ltd. Tel 01670 790246 or 07711 698246.