Jake Berry MP

Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry

Powering ahead

Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry MP says it is a new golden era for the North East.

In November 2017, ahead of launching a ‘minded to’ North of Tyne devolution deal, I visited the Turbinia – the world’s first steam turbine-powered ship – at Newcastle’s wonderful Discovery Museum.

To me, the story of this incredible vessel sums up the spirit of the Northern Powerhouse. Turbinia’s inventor, Sir Charles Parsons, was a disrupter, an innovator, and his ambition heralded a golden era for Northern manufacturing.

Arriving at Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee unannounced, Charles paraded his ship, dodging a pursuing Navy picket boat and grasping the opportunity to demonstrate its abilities in front of the gathered crowd. And he was rewarded for his audacious publicity stunt. His Wallsend-based business thrived, and the Admiralty eventually confirmed that all future Royal Navy vessels were to be turbine-powered.

The three authorities who recently joined together to put proposals to Government for the North of Tyne devolution deal have embodied a similar spirit, and it’s one I see across the Northern Powerhouse. They shouted about their desire to drive forward innovation, build business, create jobs and develop the careers of the next generation. And Government has listened.

I was delighted to join the leaders of Northumberland Council, Newcastle Council and the Mayor of North Tyneside to launch this £600m ‘minded to’ deal at the University of Newcastle in November. There’ll now be a period of consultation with all seven constituent authorities of the existing North East Combined Authority to turn this into a binding agreement under one authority with a new, powerful elected mayor.

This represents a major transfer of power away from Westminster and closer to people. It’s a pivotal moment for the North of Tyne area and the people that call it home; new powers and tools to drive forward regeneration and a large-scale, long-term fund to boost the local economy. It’s also a big win for job-creation not just for the North of Tyne but for the whole region; at least 25% of the 10,000 new jobs being created as part of this deal will be for residents living in the South of Tyne.

Having a world-class education system to raise the next generation of creative minds and highly-skilled young people will be a key factor in the success of the North of Tyne’s economic future. That’s why education is a cornerstone of the deal, with emphasis on skills and employability as a way of helping to ensure everyone – no matter their background or where they live – has the opportunity to shine.

The multi-million pound long-term Government investment will help ensure the local economy is even more attractive to businesses and private investment.

A stronger local economy will encourage more talented workers—from engineering graduates wanting to follow in the footsteps of Charles Parsons to professionals at the height of their legal careers—to have greater access to more job opportunities in the local economy.

More broadly, it’s clear that an economically resurgent and politically empowered North of Tyne and a buoyant local economy across the North East are very much key to our vision for a strong, globally-significant Northern Powerhouse.

This devolution agreement comes after recent announcements made by the Chancellor who announced a funding boost of up to £1.8bn for the Northern Powerhouse. This includes the £337m boost to replace 40 year old trains on the Tyne & Wear Metro system with a brand new Metro fleet, bringing significantly improved performance and reliability.

And alongside this, the North is set to receive £436m from the Transforming Cities Fund, including £59m for the Tees Valley Combined Authority, to really drive forward productivity by improving connectivity in city regions between metro, suburban, and rural areas.

We’re serious about delivering an economy that works for all and, having lived and worked in the North my whole life, I’m determined to do my bit to ensure all the economic resources are in place to get the job done. We must seize all of the economic opportunities before us to support the innovators, manufacturers and exporters turning the Northern Powerhouse into a globally-competitive economy.

It seems appropriate that, next year, the Great Exhibition of the North will be held in NewcastleGateshead. This will reveal to the world how the great art and culture, design and ingenuity of the Northern Powerhouse has shaped all our lives. And there are so many opportunities for businesses to get involved, back our #getnorth2018 campaign and help us build tomorrow’s economy with the Northern Powerhouse at its centre.

Like Charles Parsons, as we enter this new golden era for the North of Tyne, let us go forward audaciously, knowing that our best days lie ahead.