NECC members met with Sunderland City Council to discuss the Local Authority’s budget and priorities for 2015/16. The Council continues to face significant financial pressures due to Government grant changes of £25.7m, coupled with further cost pressures equating to £10.9m.
These pressures mean that further savings will need to be found from back office efficiencies and changes, alongside increased income generation and changes to front line services. Despite this, the Council remains committed to a major capital programme which will regenerate key development sites across the city and improve infrastructure.
Members were sympathetic towards the gravity of the financial challenges and praised the Council for the way spending reductions have been managed so far, particularly in relation to community assets and facilities. There were also discussions about the need to improve integration between the Council and health services, as well as proposed timetables for key developments in the city centre.
NECC meets regularly with all local authorities in the North East to raise issues on behalf of members. To find out more about this work, contact email@example.com
NECC Director of Policy Ross Smith has agreed to chair the North East Procurement Organisation (NEPO) Stakeholder Group. NECC and its members have worked with NEPO - the collaborative procurement network for local authorities in the North East – over several years to improve public procurement in the region. NECC will aim to use this new arrangement to ensure the views of suppliers are better reflected and that public procurement makes the maximum contribution to economic development in the North East.
NECC will be aiming to create opportunities throughout the year for businesses to directly influence procurement policy and processes, particularly through our Buy North East Steering Group – a body of members that oversees our campaign on public procurement. More information on NEPO, which has recently come under the management of the Association of North East Councils, can be seen here.
To give your view, or for information on getting involved with Buy North East, please leave a comment on this blog or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
NECC attended an Industrial Strategy event at The House of commons this week along with Partner member John N Dunn. The event was hosted by the Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable and co-hosted by Siemens UK Chief Executive Jurgen Maier.
Both were at pains to point out the value of building on important work carried out in recent years, for example the evolution of the Catapult system. Another focus was the role that such facilities can have in enhancing UK competitiveness, drawing on innovation to improve our ways of doing business – not least of all costs.
NECC is currently working with Partners to explore how this is happening in the North East and how we can grow this further.
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The North East has been announced as a pilot location for new ‘ultrafast’ broadband. NECC Partner BT has announced that Gosforth, Newcastle, will be one of two pilot areas where the service will be trialled this summer. If successful, ultrafast broadband will start to be deployed across the rest of the UK in 2016-7 and it is hoped businesses will ultimately benefit from speeds of 500Mbps as a result of the new technology. Further information can be seen here.
NECC welcomes this announcement, which fits our Manifesto aim of prioritising business locations in the North East for digital connectivity.
Please give your view by leaving a comment on this blog or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
NECC Members in the Tees Valley have given their support to the proposals for a Combined Authority in the Tees Valley.
Members welcomed the move which will bring greater co-operation between the five Local Authorities on Economic Development and the proposal to co-locate with the LEP believing such an arrangement will give the Tees Valley a stronger voice when dealing with Government.
However, members qualified their support by adding that they would wish to see a number of measures taken to ensure that the Tees Valley works strategically with other Combined Authorities and LEPs, particularly to the North on -
Members are also keen that the Business Board Members on LEP Board retain their influence once the Combined Authority is in place.
If you require any further information on NECC’s response to the Combined Authority proposals, please contact email@example.com