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Paul Woolston reappointed as chair of North East LEP

Paul Woolston has been reappointed as chairman of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership for a second three-year term.

Sunderland-born Mr Woolston, who recently retired as a senior partner with PwC North, was initially appointed as chairman in July 2011 when he took over the role from interim incumbent Paul Walker. He has been confirmed in the role for a second term by the board of the North East LEP.

As one of the very first enterprise partnership appointments, he has been at the helm of the organisation during its formative years and has overseen the creation of policies and initiatives designed to make a long-term difference to the regional economy.

Mr Woolston said: “In the next three years and beyond, the implementation of the North East Strategic Economic Plan will be one of the LEP’s main focuses. The 10-year plan for growth and employment, which lays out ambitious plans to create a further 100,000 jobs over the next decade, is based on the findings of the North East Independent Economic Review commissioned by the LEP.

“The Strategic Economic Plan sets out a route for the region to be more globally competitive and create more and better jobs. Building on the Adonis Review, it has a clear, cohesive strategy to propel long-term growth in the North East and channel future investment most effectively.

“In the LEP’s first three years we have also introduced the North East Investment Fund, which has provided millions of pounds in loans and investments for North East companies, and the enterprise partnership has attracted half a billion pounds in European Structural and Infrastructure funds to the region.”

The North East is the only LEP area to have two City Deals in place, and the enterprise partnership was selected as one of three Skills Pilot areas in the UK.

Mr Woolston said: “As chairman of the North East LEP, I was involved in the detail of putting together the North East Strategic Economic Plan and I’m delighted that my re-appointment means I will be among those putting the plan into action.

“There are a number of exciting initiatives in the pipeline, but ensuring this ambitious plan is bedded in will be absolutely essential to our future regional prosperity.

“Chairing the North East LEP is a huge honour and responsibility. We have achieved a great deal in our first three years, and still have much to do in the future to reach our ambitious targets for growth and productivity. I’m delighted to be working with a talented, dedicated team of board members and LEP staff to propel momentum.”

Paul Woolston will also be concentrating on the development and occupation of the 10 North East enterprise zone sites, which are set to play a major role in future job creation, and the implementation of the Government’s skills pilot across the North East.

Andrew Hodgson, vice-chair of the North East LEP and chief executive of SMD said: “Paul’s extraordinary commitment has been behind our successes and progress since inception. He has built influential, interlinking contacts at national, international and regional levels which help to oil the wheels of change. We are delighted he will be at the helm for the next three years, to see some of the far-reaching initiatives he helped to create come to fruition.”

Cllr Simon Henig, vice-chair of the North East LEP and chair of the Combined Authority, said: “Paul’s reappointment will provide welcome continuity. The role of chairman of the LEP is a key one in ensuring the LEP and Combined Authority continue to work together to achieve our shared goals in the priority areas of transport, employment and skills. I look forward to the relationship developing successfully for the benefit of the North East.”