WBD, in collaboration with the North East England Chamber of Commerce and its partners, have led an infrastructure working group looking to boost the economic recovery of the North East.

This is part of a wider initiative led by the Chamber to ensure the region can continue to thrive following the COVID-19 pandemic. As a partner member, WBD is working with the Chamber and other major employers in the region to formulate a strategic plan outlining key areas of focus to restart the economy after months of lockdown.

Chaired by WBD partner Kevin Bell, the infrastructure working group draws on expertise from a wide range of businesses operating across many sectors, to identify the immediate priorities for the region and shape a long-term strategy for the North East's infrastructure needs.

Looking at a range of issues from infrastructure investment, public transport, green energy and digital connectivity, the working group has set out a range of recommendations for the Government, local authorities and the wider business community, which include:

  • restoring confidence in public transport at a time when social distancing has led to a rapid decline in travel
  • providing a boost to the aviation and hospitality/tourism sector by highlighting the North East as a key destination
  • the need for a long term energy strategy to increase energy generation and identify further investment in decarbonisation projects
  • making digital infrastructure a priority to increase productivity and to allow for flexible working options for workers post COVID-19
  • supporting further collaboration between businesses and education to help create the digital skills businesses will need in the future.

Kevin Bell of WBD commented:

"As we slowly come out of the pandemic lockdown, we need to carefully reassess the infrastructure needs and priorities for the region. The 'new normal', which looks likely to require social distancing for a considerable period of time, will force businesses to innovate and find alternative ways to keep customers and staff happy and safe. In order to do this, it is paramount that the North East has the right physical and digital infrastructure in place. Our working group has discussed some of these issues at length and we have made a number of recommendations that will hopefully keep businesses moving and the economy growing."

WBD is a transatlantic law firm, providing high quality legal capability and outstanding personal service to a wide range of regional, national and international clients from 27 key locations across the UK and the US. In addition, it has a growing global network in over 120 countries through its exclusive relationship with Lex Mundi, the world's largest association of independent law firms.

WBD has deep roots in the North East and its largest UK office of over 200 qualified advisors is based in Newcastle. It is committed to playing its part in the future prosperity of the North East and Cumbria by using its local, national and international reach and expertise to benefit the region's leading sectors, businesses, people and organisations.