The new Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne North, Catherine McKinnell, has launched a passionate defence of the region’s endangered development agency, One North East.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Ms McKinnell stated that it was ludicrous that the government has decided to push forward with abolition of the popular and respected agency.
‘With massive cuts in funding for regional development, combined with the Lib-Con pledge to transfer its functions to unprepared local authorities, the government, after damaging indecision, has announced the abolition of ONE.
‘The closure of the agency will remove a vital local driver for recovery and eliminate a key means of building a stronger northeast economy.
‘Taken as a group, RDA achievements over the past decade are enormously impressive. They include training over 400,000 people, creating or protecting 850,000 jobs, helping to create 60,000 businesses, kick-starting and managing regional development and, in more recent times, providing vital support to recession-hit businesses. These benefits have been more obvious in the northeast than anywhere else in the country.
‘The ill-thought-through ‘cut-and-shunt’ of these roles into already under-resourced local authorities would be totally unworkable and if forced through, would mean the loss of efficient, well-resourced and consistent services that are of fundamental importance to the region.
‘Put simply, the loss of ONE would sound the death-knell of high-quality business support, regeneration work and regional promotion in the part of the country most desperately in need of these services. The agency has a strong record of success across the board and its abolition is unnecessary, unwanted and will disproportionately affect our recovery.
‘I for one do not accept the argument of the 1980s and ‘90s that unemployment and extra financial hardship are prices worth paying by the most vulnerable in our society.”
Catherine McKinnell is MP for Newcastle Upon Tyne North and entered Parliament in the 2010 General Election.