Sean Bullick, CEO of NE1, Newcastle’s Business Improvement District (BID) has welcomed measures in the Chancellor’s budget to improve northern transport links and business incentives.
But Mr Bullick said he wanted George Osborne to go further by seizing the opportunity to give cities outside London and Scotland more money-raising freedom.
Mr Osborne announced plans for an HS3 rail scheme, strengthening rail links between northern cities, along with improvements to the A66 and the A69.
He also said he was “more than doubling” the business rate relief, by increasing the threshold from £6,000 to £15,000 and from £18,000 to £51,000 for the higher rate. The Chancellor said 600,000 small businesses would pay no business rates at all from next year as a result.
Mr Bullick said: “The Chancellor’s announcement on HS3 is to be welcomed. It’s only right that the North East economy should have the same chance to boom through high-speed rail as the rest of the country.
“With extra connectivity between the northern cities, we have real opportunity to get the whole of the north working together to achieve the aims of the Northern Powerhouse.
“Not only that, but Newcastle will further benefit from tourism as visitors will have the ability to reach us quicker for a day-trip or a weekend break in the city, while the workforces of northern cities will enjoy much greater fluidity of movement. Improvements to the A66 and the A69 road network will also lead to similar benefits.”
Mr Bullick also said business rate reductions for smaller businesses could lead to a boost for city centres. He said: “It’s great to see incentives which could help small businesses looking to start-up or to make the move from online only to physical premises in our town and city centres.”
He is now urging the Chancellor to put some real weight behind his promise of a Budget for the Northern Powerhouse by giving Newcastle, and other city centres outside London and Scotland, more money-raising power.
NE1, along with other BIDs across the country, wants the ability to launch a Property Owner BID. At the moment, funding for NE1 comes from property tenant members who invest a percentage of rateable values, but Mr Bullick says by bringing property owners on board, NE1 could double the amount it has to spend on city centre initiatives and improvements.
Mr Bullick added: “London already has this ability, so why shouldn’t we be able to seize the same opportunity to improve our own economy? Surely that is what the Northern Powerhouse is all about.”