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Movements towards a Northern Powerhouse

Posted by
26 Feb 2016
As the Northern Powerhouse International Conference & Exhibition took place in Manchester last week, I am hearing more about debates surrounding the ideas of connecting the North with people speaking out against certain towns/cities being forgotten and the practicality of making it a reality.  

Manchester was at the heart of discussions to help set in motion support to bring about change, but recent citings revealed that many SME-medium sized businesses still don’t understand what the Northern Powerhouse is. The Ipsos Mori North poll highlighted that only half of the North's population were aware of the Northern Powerhouse, even though it has been it has been nearly 18 months since the chancellor George Osborne announced the country’s need for a Northern Powerhouse. The poll indicated that those who were ‘in the know’ were generally in support and felt that the two biggest priorities rested on increase investment in transport and skills, as well as 74% saying that attracting foreign investment was just as important to bring money to the North.

The focus of the conference surrounded transport plans to build the industry and the economy and to create a buzz. It included a number of host speakers; Lord Jim O’Neill, Lord Prescott and Piers Linney, (co-chief executive of Outsourcery PLC and former BBC TV Dragon`s Den star) to name a few. The plan is for the North to operate as more of a free flowing entity to connect towns and ensure less of a disparity between the North and South of England. Ed Cox, director of Manchester think tank, IPPR North stated “It is one of the most successful initiatives this government has undertaken so far in terms of galvanising a wide range of stakeholders in order to really focus their minds on economic growth.”

With proposals for a rail link between the Pennines (HS3) and a new road tunnel from Sheffield to Manchester, many agree that more needs to be done in relation to the North’s transportation links. Manchester suffers from server congestion and traffic jams, but changes to motorways such as M62, spark debate over the impact of the chosen infrastructure as some feel will also have a negative impact on the city.

The key message delivered was that for a Northern Powerhouse to be successful, it needs to be more of a bottom-up approach, led by regions, so that any change in future government would not prevent any momentum gathered, and for that to happen more awareness was needed to ‘empower large numbers of people to explore better economic opportunities.’ Following that, the next phase will be to focus on the North's skills gap and improvements to be made in education.
Do you think the Northern Powerhouse will finally become a reality? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Alternatively, sign up for our quarterly newsletter for relevant industry news delivered straight to your inbox. Receive Newsletter
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