A muppet journalist from the Guardian has stated that the North East is teetering on the brink of becoming the new Detroit - ie a place devoid of character, growth, prosperity, identity, entrepreneurial spirit, new industry, and so much more. As usual with most Guardian claptrap he is way wrong. He did not choose to speak to me, but then again I am not surprised. He set out with an agenda, but as always on this blog we try to be fair so here is his piece. Make of it what you will:
I would make a number of comments to rebut this rubbish:
On jobs, growth it is my strong belief that our better days lie ahead:
- the North East is a manufacturing hub and the only region that is a net exporter in this country
- we are developing specific specialisms in sectors that are genuinely transforming the economy - whether it is subsea technology, or our burgeoning IT sector that sees Accenture and Hewlett Packard based in the North East, and running the IT for everything from the Rural Payments Agency to parts of the Universal Credit Roll out.
- no one who was at the Dynamo conference 10 days ago in Newcastle could have mistaken the entrepreneurial spirit that was there; our IT sector is genuinely transforming the region, albeit we do need a IT Technical College. I chaired a seminar on regional growth that was buzzing with ideas and expectation.
- our job figures are improving across the board, with every parliamentary seat seeing less JSA claimants than before, more people in work, and real apprenticeships doubling.
- In my area of Northumberland I opened the Egger Engineering Academy last autumn and have seen its effect in creating specialist engineering jobs.
- on Wednesday I will be welcoming the Energi Coast companies and the Subsea sector to Westminster: they are optimistic and hiring. I doubt the Guardian will come to such a good news event or do a story, but one lives in hope.
On jobs, growth and our regions future then I urge you to read the Adonis Report or delve into the North East Chamber of Commerce's 50 Reasons why the North East is the place to do business: its report is here: http://www.necc.co.uk/50greatreasonstoinvest/1390-50-great-reasons-to-do-business-in-the-north-east-infographic
I could go on about the everything from our stunning landscape, to the community spirit that exists like nowhere else in the country. Things are not perfect and there is a long way to go but I am very optimistic about the North East's future.
I will await the chance of a rebuttal piece from the Guardian but will lay good odds that they will not be offering.