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A conference organised by the North East LEP brought together over 200 leading figures to discuss the evidence that has been gathered to date for the North East Independent Economic Review.

This milestone event for Lord Andrew Adonis’s economic review was held on Friday 15 February at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead. Andrew Adonis was present alongside the review team, members of the expert panel and over 200 senior regional business and public sector representatives.

Together, they heard presentations and discussed the evidence gathered so far. The debate marked the start of the final stage of the review process. The conference was followed by a three hour meeting of the review team and their advisers as they moved towards making their recommendations to the North East LEP. Their final report will be published later this spring.

Other members of the review team, which includes Will Hutton, principal of Hertford College, Oxford; Heidi Mottram, CEO of Northumbrian Water; Lord Don Curry, chair of NFU Mutual; Jonathan Ruffer, chairman of Ruffer LLP and Bridget Rosewell, economist and senior partner of Volterra Partners will be present on the day. Representatives from the review’s expert panel of leading international academics and researchers will also take part.

There were presentations on advanced manufacturing, skills, and the service sector, ahead of a debate on the submissions – some provocative – from the expert panel.

The review’s conclusions – which has had strong support from central Government – will target measures to improve productivity and employment growth in the period to 2030 in the North East LEP area, and will provide the North East LEP, its partners and central government each with a set of strategic interventions to be implemented over the next five years.

Alongside an assessment of the North East economy in European and global markets, the review has called for evidence on a number of cross-cutting themes including labour markets and skills, infrastructure and land markets, finance and capital markets, private and social enterprise and the role of government and public governance.

Submissions from the expert panel and evidence provided to the review by industry and public bodies will be available on the North East LEP’s website in advance of the conference. A synthesis of the evidence will be published shortly after the event to complement the literature review already produced for Lord Adonis’s team.

Lord Adonis said: “The North East LEP area is already a world leader in many sectors and has a huge amount of economic potential for growth in these and new business sectors. Through the North East Independent Economic Review, we want to find achievable means to realise this potential in a sustainable way. The review team is doing an outstanding and highly committed job in compiling the information, and the response they have had across all sectors of the North East LEP economy has been hugely pleasing.

“This conference was the most important forum so far for discussion of the review. It gave us the chance to debate and respond to the evidence gathered. The whole team looks forward to continuing to meet and talk with private, public and voluntary sector representatives. Ultimately it is the people, institutions and businesses of the area who will deliver the goals and challenges set out in the review. I hope that as a result of events such as this everyone will feel the sense of ownership and drive that we will need to move forward to review recommendations and from there to decisions and action on the ground.”

Paul Woolston, chair of the North East LEP, said: “The North East Independent Economic Review is helping us to define the area’s role in the wider economy amidst a period of significant global change. Whilst much remains constant – we are still a key part of global oil and gas exploration and exploitation for example – some sectors have been radically altered by the financial crash and ensuing changes to public spending and investment. With this in mind the review will help us all to make the lasting changes that will benefit the people and economy of the North East area.

“This conference was a significant stage in the creation of the review, and the opinions and views of our key stakeholders are very important parts of the process. These are the people who will help the LEP to implement and achieve change, and I’m delighted that alongside all our local partners and stakeholders we will have senior officials from central government with us to participate in the day.”

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