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NORTHERN COUNCILS SEEK BUSINESS BACKING FOR REGIONAL CHAMBER

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Plans for an important step forward in giving the north of England real influence over its own future will be discu...
Plans for an important step forward in giving the north of England real influence over its own future will be discussed at a special meeting of the North of England Assembly next month.

NEA chair John McCormack said he was confident that a regional chamber, bringing together all sectors of the community in the region, would be established to work alongside the new regional development agency which is due to come into operation in a year's time.

Discussions between key organisations in the public and private

sectors about the shape and role of a regional chamber have been underway for some time and it is hoped that a framework for the new organisation will be ready for consideration by the special meeting of the NEA on May 15th.

Cllr McCormack said: 'Throughout the English regions discussions are

taking place on establishing regional chambers which the government is keen to see working in co-operation with the development agencies.

'In the north we can justifiably claim that we have had strong and

effective partnerships between many different sectors and interests over a number of years and we are building the framework for the regional chamber on those solid foundations.

'We are firmly of the view that finding the right answer is more important than getting the fastest answer - especially since as yet we do not know the exact details of the legislation which will establish the development agencies.

'Of course, the economic regeneration of the north - and especially

improving the competitiveness of our businesses - is vital for all our

futures and that is where the development agency will take the lead.

'At the same time the regional chamber will be able to reflect the wider views of the region across many different areas, including education and training, transport and the environment, crime prevention, health, housing, tourism, the arts and sport. In addition it is vital that it can provide a strong voice on the key issues affecting the development of Europe - including the future of funding for regions such as ours.

'The discussions we have had so far have been very encouraging and I

believe we can reach agreement on a framework for a chamber which will

truly reflect the hopes and ambitions of people in the north - and which will act as a stepping stone towards a democratically-elected regional assembly.'

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