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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]

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£1.7M from LEP drives Stephenson Quarter

Finance has been secured to unlock the potential of a groundbreaking £200m development in central Newcastle, after more than £1.7m was awarded to the scheme from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s North East Investment Fund.

The Stephenson Quarter development, adjacent to Newcastle’s Central Station, will transform ten acres of the city by bringing residential, commercial and retail facilities together with hotels and creative space.

Earlier this month Silverlink announced RBS and Aviva funding, backed by Newcastle City Council. The LEP’s North East Investment Fund, which includes support from the Growing Places Fund and the Regional Growth Fund, provides the pivotal first step in the development by funding the infrastructure which underpins the development.

The regeneration project will bring huge economic benefits to the city and wider North East, and will create more than 2,000 jobs.

Work will now start on the first phase of the ten-acre gateway development, which includes a Crowne Plaza Hotel, offices and car park, after Silverlink secured £1.7m from the North East Investment Fund.

The multi-million pound North East Investment fund, which is managed by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, includes Growing Places funding designed to kick start growth by unlocking infrastructure, housing and economic development schemes which have stalled in the economic climate. The evergreen fund reinvests loans to help fund further projects.

Silverlink, the developer of Stephenson Quarter, hailed the North East Investment Fund as key to enabling them to progress the entire development, the first phase of which will complete with the hotel opening in 2015.

Other partners for Stephenson Quarter are Newcastle City Council, RBS, Aviva and Miller Construction.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “Newcastle’s City Deal is unleashing massive potential, unlocking investment in infrastructure schemes that have stalled. The £1.7 million funding from the North East Investment Fund is leveraging £250 million of investment and will see Newcastle and the North East benefit from 2,000 jobs – a significant and sustainable boost for economic growth.

“City Deals are a quiet revolution in the way Britain is governed. Rather than London laying down the law, cities like Newcastle are getting the right to do things their way.”

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “I’m delighted that the North East Investment Fund has boosted the Stephenson development which will create thousands of jobs right in the centre of Newcastle.

“This is a shining example of what Local Enterprise Partnerships can deliver by working closely with businesses and councils. Combining local knowledge ensures that every pound of funding is spent carefully and in a way which helps economic growth and creates job opportunities in the area.”

Alan Schofield, finance director of Silverlink, said: “We have worked closely with the North East LEP since the initial plans were drawn up for Stephenson Quarter, and we are very grateful for its support in allowing us to access the NEIF finance.

“The financing of this infrastructure work was vital to enable the rest of the development to commence – in effect, this has helped us to unlock the potential of the whole project, and the huge economic benefits and 2,000 jobs in total this will lead to.”

Paul Woolston, chair of the North East LEP investment panel, said: “Stephenson Quarter is a hugely significant regeneration project, with massive economic potential for the North East region as a whole. We are very pleased the North East Investment Fund has enabled work to begin, and help in the creation of this vibrant development and thousands of jobs.”

“The LEP welcomes enquiries from businesses and developers looking for flexible loan finance to expand their operations, build new premises, undertake housing and industrial or commercial developments.”

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

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£7m from Growing Places Fund creates jobs in South Shields

Two projects in South Tyneside that aim to create hundreds of jobs are sharing £7m in funding from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership.

The regeneration of South Shields town centre was awarded £5m and the Trinity South housing and regeneration initiative received £2m from the Growing Places fund managed by the North East LEP.

The North East LEP is responsible for allocating £25m in Government money to major regional development projects in the form of flexible loans.

Councillor Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: “South Shields 365 is an ambitious plan to make the town centre an exciting destination every day of the year, and this is another important step towards making that vision a reality.

“In just two months since launching the masterplan, we have seen work start on demolishing the eyesore Wouldhave House and now a major funding success to increase the momentum of regeneration.

“The masterplan will connect our beautiful seafront with a vibrant town centre and renewed Riverside area, where major regeneration projects are already underway.

“Over 200 new homes are planned for Trinity South, just a stone’s throw from the hi-tech One Trinity Green development and the waterfront park which will be completed later this year.”

The South Shields 365 plan will receive a £5m Growing Places loan, supporting the Council’s bold vision to make South Shields the North East’s premier coastal resort.

The 10-year plan aims to bring a new cinema, and retail and leisure facilities to the town centre, as well as a new library and public transport hub. The council will appoint a lead developer for the £100m scheme later this year.

The masterplan is scheduled for completion in 2023 and the council plans to repay the £5m Growing Places loan by the first quarter of 2015.

Work is also underway at the £30m Trinity South housing development in Laygate, South Shields, which is due to be finished in 2019.

A joint project by South Tyneside Council and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), the scheme is being developed by housing and regeneration specialist Keepmoat Homes.

The £2m Growing Places loan, which will also be repaid in 2015, will help to transform a 13-acre site including the former Circatex factory and the southern part of Frederick Street. The scheme will create 222 family homes as well as parkland play areas and pedestrian links to the Riverside.

The Council is also developing a £16m pool and leisure complex on South Shields seafront, whilst a £5m project is transforming nearby Littlehaven beach. Construction of a major new Community Hub building in Hebburn Town Centre is set to start later this year.

The £25m in Government Growing Places money won by the North East LEP, to kick start major development projects which had been slowed by the recession, was one of the largest awarded to any region.

Jeremy Middleton, Chair of the North East LEP’s Investment Panel, said: “Both of these projects put forward by South Tyneside Council were excellent matches for the Growing Places criteria, providing sizeable developments in good locations able to make a long-term difference to the region’s economy.

“We are pleased to see the first tranche of the Growing Places money going towards two strong initiatives that will aid in job creation and benefit both their local area and the wider North East.”

Earlier this month TealFarmPark in Washington announced that it was able to complete phase two of its industrial park, creating 112 jobs, following a £200,000 loan from the Growing Places fund. The LEP’s Growing Places fund is an evergreen fund, with repaid loans being reinvested in the fund to enable further projects to be completed.

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

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Vantec completes new warehouse at North East Enterprise Zone

Vantec Corporation President Akira Koyama celebrated the successful completion of Vantec Europe’s massive new warehouse at the North East Enterprise Zone in Sunderland by painting the second eye of a Daruma doll, signifying the successful conclusion of a major project.

The 421,000 sq ft logistics centre will bring new jobs to the region as part of Vantec’s strategy to increase staff at Sunderland by over 230 in the next five years. Since construction began in May 2012 Vantec Europe has also won three major contracts with global automotive companies.

Akira Koyama, president of Vantec, said: “This is our largest-ever overseas project. The new warehouse is already helping us to secure new contracts and expand our workforce.”

The North East LEP, which manages the North East Enterprise Zone, is delighted with the effective completion of an important development for the automotive sector.

Paul Woolston, chair of the North East LEP said: “It’s great to see Vantec’s new warehouse building open for business on the EZ. The North East, and Sunderland in particular, is already a hugely important area for the UK’s automotive industry. The city’s ambitions are enhanced by this development, and we are working hard alongside the City Council and partners to build on this success by attracting new investors to the region.”

Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson said: “Vantec’s new warehouse is an ambitious project which echoes our city’s world-class ambitions to be Europe’s automotive hub. The new jobs are the best possible news for the city, the region and the UK.”

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles added: “This is testament to the potential of Enterprise Zones to deliver growth across the country. The government is fostering local enterprise and creating the conditions for businesses like Vantec to further invest and thrive in low tax, low regulation Enterprise Zones.”

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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.