18404A new platform comprising leading figures from across the North East is being formed to give active, public, and coherent support to the devolution deal announced last month, develop and promote practical ways in which the Northern Powerhouse can create growth in the region.

North East Says Yes! is the brainchild of North East Local Enterprise Partnership board member and investor Jeremy Middleton, and Alastair Balls, former Senior Economic Advisor to the Treasury.

North East Says Yes! is aimed at encouraging individuals from diverse political backgrounds to get involved in well-researched and informed policy debates made necessary by the changing political environment created by progress on devolution.

A voluntary group, the aim is for North East Says Yes! to encourage, research and promote new ideas and inform policy discussion that is based upon the real experiences and needs of the region’s business community.

It also provides a platform that supports the invitation from Newcastle City Council Leader Nick Forbes for business to get involved in directing new powers and resources.

Jeremy Middleton, Chief Executive of Middleton Investments, said: “We believe that current political developments mean there is an opportunity and a need for new political, economic and social ideas in the North East.”

Alastair Balls, who is Chairman of the International Centre for Life, said: “The way the Northern Powerhouse agenda is developing represents an opportunity for social and economic renewal in the North East, and North East Says Yes is all about bringing fresh, real life thinking to this.”

North East Says Yes! will commission think pieces and proposals from people across the region and from varying backgrounds and political leanings, on a range of topics and sectors. This could include contributors from business, academia, political journalism, education and the public services, with views to be published through the North East Says Yes! website to encourage debate and discussion.

Jeremy said: “The ideas and proposals that are developed will be made available to politicians, economists and civil servants, and we hope they will help to shape future policy in the region.”

Alastair added: “North East Says Yes! is to be openly and transparently funded by public donations from those who wish to stimulate public policy debate in the best interests of the North East. This is a time of change in the North East, but it must be change that is guided by real experiences, real needs and the potential for real positive outcomes for our region.”

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