THE new head of a leading North West business group says the Government urgently needs to address the imbalance in capital investment between the South East and the regions.
Juergen Maier was today unveiled as chairman of the powerful North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT) which includes large firms such as Pilkington and BAE Systems as well as a network of small companies.
Mr Maeir, who himself is managing director of Siemens UK and Ireland Industry Sector, says capital spending per head in London and the South East stands at £2,731 per head – a long way ahead of the North West which receives just £184 per head.
In an interview with Post Business he said the NWBLT would be lobbying the Government hard to address this issue.
“I want the NWBLT to be the leading regional voice in the rebalancing agenda – making the case to the public and Government for a greater focus on the North West being an engine of export led growth,” he said.
“The NWBLT is well-positioned to do this because our membership isn’t just made up of regional companies but global ones too – which helps us to sell our region to the world.
“I also want to highlight and support the role of our high value manufacturers – bolstering our reputation as the UK’s leading region in manufacturing output.”
Mr Maeir said the NWBLT’s strategy focused on four key areas – the skills base, the transport infrastructure, high-value manufacturing and science and innovation. He also said measures to bolster the small business sector were essential.
“SMEs are vital for the wider supply chain and I think they will become increasingly important over the next two decades,” he said.
On skills he added: “Companies in the North West cannot grow without a steady supply of people with the right skills.
“In particular, we want much more attention given to vocational training for young people. Kids in schools who are not going to go down the higher education route need to be given as much focus as those who are.
“That has not happened in this country for more than two decades.”
Mr Maeir also said the NWBLT was backing the proposed north-south high-speed rail link, HS2, and supported Lord Heseltine’s proposal to give more direct funds to the Local Enterprise Partnerships.
“There needs to be more regional funds and regional decision-making,” he added.
The division of Siemens Mr Maeir heads is a global supplier of industrial plant and software, manufacturing automation and drive technologies.
He has also held a number of other senior European roles within Siemens in the UK and Germany.
He replaces Paul Lee, a partner at law firm Addleshaw Goddard, as chairman of the NWBLT following a vote of board members on Monday evening.