Alan Johnson 'ideal' to lead Heseltine's Hull economy pilot
CITY MP Alan Johnson is being tipped to spearhead a pilot putting Hull at the forefront of Lord Heseltine's plans to boost the UK economy.
The Tory peer's blueprint for economic growth has received official backing from the Government.
His report says decision-making powers and funding from Whitehall should be transferred to the regions.
Along with Birmingham, Hull and the Humber has already been announced as one of two pilot areas in the country where Lord Heseltine's recommendations will be put into practice first.
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Now, sources have told the Mail the Hull West and Hessle MP could be offered the job of leading it.
One well-placed source told the Mail: "Alan is the ideal candidate. "He is well-respected across the political divide and has the right connections at government level to be trusted with making this work."
It is believed overtures have already been made to the long-serving MP about the role.
The pilot is expected to see the creation of a new economic development body involving the Humber's four councils and the region's Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
Civil servants could also move from London to work on the initiative.
Although Lord Heseltine favours the idea of combined local authorities working under an "elected conurbation mayor", the Mail understands council leaders around the Humber prefer having a nationally known figure at the helm.
That has prompted speculation that Mr Johnson could be in the frame.
Lord Haskins, chairman of the Humber LEP, said: "Lord Heseltine proposed a major shift in powers and funding to local leaders and I am delighted the Government has accepted every one of the key recommendations.
"The Humber LEP will be at the forefront of implementing these changes, with support from Lord Heseltine, and we are well-placed to do so because of the work we have done so far.
"Since Lord Heseltine's report was published, we have been preparing the way to implement his recommendations.
"This announcement means we will have the tools and at least some of the money to get on with delivering them."
Mr Johnson said ministerial support for the report was good news for Hull. He said: "MPs in Hull and the Humber asked to host a pilot for Heseltine in last November's debate in Parliament precisely because we felt his analysis was right for our area.
"Lord Heseltine recognises the need for an industrial strategy."