Ed Balls at an event in Newcastle pledges ‘biggest devolution programme ever’ under Labour

Labour’s Ed Balls tells a business event in Newcastle the Conservatives’ approach to devolution has been ‘utter chaos’

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has promised the North East the “biggest devolution programme ever” should Labour win the General Election in May.

Speaking before an event in Newcastle, the senior Labour figure lambasted the Tories approach to devolving power as a “shambles” and said people in the North East don’t believe David Cameron’s Government would hand over more control to the region.

Mr Balls pledged an ambitious package for a regional power and said there would be no need for a North East mayor.

He said: “I think that the approach of the Conservatives has been utter chaos in the last few years.

“They abolished the Regional Development Agencies like One North East, which was a piece of vandalism because it was doing a great job for the North East.

“They centralise decisions like mad and now suddenly they are trying to pretend they are devolvers at the last minute.

“I don’t think anybody believes a word of it any more than they believe it when David Cameron says his plan is working.

“His plan for people in the North East is not working at all.

“We are the party which has historically devolved. We set up the RDAs.

“We are going to do the biggest devolution programme ever after the election but we are going to do it in a careful way and a thought out way, not the shambles and the chaos you have seen from the Tories.”

The Shadow Chancellor was part of a panel at the Great North Museum organised by the North East /Irish business network, Lionra.

Catherine Walker, Inward Investment Director at Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, was also part of the panel.

She said: “Inward investment, and business growth and retention are major components affecting regional growth, with both having the ability to create and protect valuable jobs and send out powerful confidence messages to the market.

“We’re solution driven as a region and though we’re seeing success by challenging how we do business, the changing scale and types of investment that we’re seeing mean we need to continually adapt our approach.

“For example, emerging or disruptive technologies are changing the skills needed by businesses such as big data, and there’s a trend towards buying companies rather than starting up.

“How we go about tackling these challenges is vital to the future growth of our local and regional economies and I’m looking forward to discussing and debating a practical strategy to address these over the next five years and beyond.”

Paul Woolston, Chair of the North East LEP, added: “Supporting business investment is one of the pillars of the North East Strategic Economic Plan. The North East LEP is winning hundreds of millions of pounds of Government and EU investment which is being used to back companies with growth plans, helping them deliver more and better jobs to drive new economic growth.”

Original Article Published by the Chronicle @ http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/ed-balls-event-newcastle-pledges-8682033

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