North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll asked business leaders to focus on the ‘real difference’ an inclusive economy could make to people’s lives.

Speaking at the Built Environment Networking North-East Development Conference in Newcastle, he said profits should be ploughed back into the local economy. And he quoted Morgan Freeman’s character from The Shawshank Redemption, Red, warning delegates to keep in sight what mattered most to people in the North of Tyne. The Mayor is leading a community wealth building agenda at the new combined authority, which will use a £600 million devolution deal to reshape Newcastle, Northumberland and North Tyneside.

The North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTC A) has bold plans to use devolution to build a stronger, fairer region and tackle the biggest challenges of the 21st century.

Addressing an audience of around 350 potential investors, developers and public sector influencers, Mayor Driscoll quoted ‘Red’, saying the term “inclusive-growth” had become a “politician’s word”. He emphasised the responsibility of those within development and the built environment to “focus our minds on the real difference the economy makes to people’s lives.”

“I want a strong economy that works for everyone,” he said. “I want to improve people’s wellbeing and happiness. I’m not agnostic about profit – I want business to be very profitable. It’s what you do with the profit that counts.”

The conference January 8 at Newcastle Civic Centre was to examine how to deliver inclusive economic growth to the people of the North East. It was supported by both the North East Combined Authority and the Tees Valley Combined Authority.

Cllr Joyce McCarty is the North of Tyne cabinet member for employability and inclusion.