Over 80 members of the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) heard Durham County Council’s newly-appointed Chief Executive pledge to do his best to award contracts to County Durham businesses whenever possible.
Terry Collins was addressing the NECC’s County Durham AGM at Seaham Hall where he also set out his vision for the County Council.
He said: “The economy is my number one priority and I want to help all I can to keep business in the County. My aim is to help companies in our area have a competitive advantage when we are looking for suppliers.” He also highlighted his capital programme budget which stands at just under £145m for 2015/16.
Terry Collins asked the Chamber members to be open and honest with him and give feedback on ways the Council could improve how they interact with the business community.
His other priorities for the next 12 months are devolution and the need to ensure it is a fair deal, the County Durham plan and the resources needed to deliver the Council’s services.
Members heard the success of projects like Lumiere, which showcased the County and brought in around £6m to the local economy and has now been replicated in London. He also said New York was considering the possibility of having its own Lumiere event.
He stressed County Durham’s communities’ skills were important to the area’s future success, with more employees with manufacturing and engineering experience needed.
Terry Collins also highlighted the major investment by businesses in the County including Hitachi, Atom Bank and NetPark as well as physical regeneration in Durham City at Freemans Reach/Milburngate.
NECC’s Durham Committee Chair and Chief Executive, Esh Group, Brian Manning, was re-elected at the event. He summed up the past year and said: “We have had some substantial successes in the area including excellent work in the field of STEM and greater engagement between schools and businesses. The Business Enterprise Plan was also launched which will be beneficial to the whole County. Looking to the future we are certainly in for an interesting 12 months with the devolution and the EU debates coming up.”
Jonathan Walker, Head of Policy and Campaigns, NECC said: “We welcome Terry Collins determination to give local businesses their best opportunity to win work from his local authority. Our manifesto states we want to support a competitive North East and this collaboration is a perfect example of how we are stronger together.”