Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Ton Blenkinsop today (1st July 2014) welcomed proposals made by Labour’s leader Ed Miliband, promising a devolution of spending powers from Whitehall to England’s regions and councils in order to reduce the inequalities between the north and London and the South East, and to boost local economic growth.
Ed Miliband pledged that under a Labour government councils would be encouraged to join forces to create regional “economic powerhouses” to attract more jobs and boost growth. They would be allowed to keep any extra business rates income generated by growth to invest locally. The plan would be “revenue neutral” – it would not cost taxpayers anything – but would hand more control over how money raised locally is spent in that area.
In addition he called for releasing up to £30bn in government funding for regional housing, transport and employment schemes, creating a new national funding framework for innovation policy and setting a target of 25% of all government contracts being awarded to small firms.
“If put in place this could the tonic Teesside needs to develop jobs and industry for future generations. Teesside has massive economic strengths which are simply being ignored by this Coalition government. Our core industries of steel, chemicals and engineering are not only vital to the UK as a whole but, with proper support, are capable of fast growth.
“The infrastructure of Teesside consists of crucial and unique features vital for many of the industries that could be developed – a direct supply of North sea gas feedstock; major effluent-treatment facilities; a well-developed logistic capacity, including a deep-water port whose operators have experience of handling many different products; the best water supply in the United Kingdom; a good supply of new sites for the industry that are already hooked into services and capable of producing cost and time savings for incoming producers; and above all, a mature support network of suppliers, process engineers, and an adaptable, skilled workforce.
“With help, these vital factors can help Teesside become an industrial powerhouse for the future. A powerhouse that can create new local jobs in both big and small Teesside businesses and new locally based growth – a concept that is in stark contrast to the penny-pinching, Whitehall dominated approach that has been imposed on Teesside by today’s feeble coalition.”