Mayoral candidates urged to prioritise economic growth

A leading think tank has called upon the North of Tyne metro mayoral candidates to prioritise boosting economic growth, ahead of next month’s election.

In a new paper, the think tank Centre for Cities calls on whoever wins the election to focus on attracting high-skilled businesses into Newcastle city centre.

Voters will have the change to elect the new regional mayor on 2 May.

The North of Tyne region covers Newcastle upon Tyne, North Tyneside and Northumberland.

In particular, the think tank warns that Newcastle has lower productivity and wages than both the national average and comparable cities such as Manchester or Leeds and the city’s underperformance has a knock-on effect of reducing job opportunities across the whole area.

In order to tackle this, the Mayor should ensure a supply of new high-quality office space within the city centre and move it away from an overreliance on retail stores.

It also calls on the new mayor to coordinate education projects that already exist in the area and boost skills.

And while the Mayor will be elected by the residents of Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland, the report argues the region’s economic footprint extends well beyond its political boundaries; around 90,000 people cross the Tyne daily for work.

Therefore, it argues the mayor could use his/her powers to coordinate work with neighbouring council leaders and maximise devolution’s benefits to the regional economy, aligning policy making in areas such as housing, infrastructure and economic development.

And they should also invite interested partners from across the North East to participate in skills and education programmes.

‘The election of North of Tyne Mayor could mark a political and economic step change for the area, as it has done in London, Birmingham and Greater Manchester,’ said Centre for Cities chief executive Andrew Carter.

‘To achieve this, the election winner should first focus on boosting the economy.

‘The North of Tyne has been hit hard by recent decades’ changing economic realities such as globalisation or workplace automation – limiting job opportunities. Therefore, the key priority for whoever who wins next month’s election should be to lay the foundations needed to boost overall economic growth,’ added Mr Carter.

‘The challenge for the new mayor will be finding a way to work with neighbouring local authorities who, while not formally part of North of Tyne, have close economic links. If this relationship is managed effectively it will bring tangible benefits for the entire North East; if not then the benefits of devolution to the North of Tyne and beyond could be lost.’

The full Centre for Cities report is available to read here.

Photo by Mike Hawkwind.

Jamie Hailstone
Senior reporter - NewStart


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