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The Political Power of the Northern Powerhouse

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30 Mar 2015
During the Budget, George Osbourne highlighted his attempts to encourage economic growth within the north so that we can see a more even distribution of power and economic advantage across the country. This is perhaps to expel the cliché he grew up with "that if it wasn't happening in London, it wasn't happening at all.”

It is no secret that as the capital, London by default attracts new, ambitious, wealthy entrepreneurs each year because it is the central hub of government and commerce. At Sellick Partnership, we acknowledge London's power and currently work with many legal departments in London Boroughs to supply hundreds of locum staff annually.

Additionally, our London office will open later in 2015. With this expansion, not only can we make the most of opportunities and contacts in the market, but London also has buying power because of the prestige that is associated with it.  Managing Director of Sellick Partnership, Jo Sellick, feels that due to the demand of our candidates and clients, a London office would be essential in continuing our growth. 

However, slowly and steadily the northern cities are seeing growth and gaining economic strength. One perfect example is Manchester, the home of Sellick Partnership. The choice of the BBC to move from London to Manchester has had a huge effect on the local economy. Back in 2010, The BBC relocated 1,800 jobs to Manchester to maximise savings. Arguments were made that the spending per head was lower in Manchester, it had low approval ratings in the north and the BBC's facilities at New Broadcasting House needed replacing. It appears to have been a sensible move for everyone involved (excluding Jeremy Clarkson who said "I'd rather quit Top Gear than join BBC's move to 'small suburb' Salford”. Perhaps he should have quit rather than face the humility of being dismissed earlier this week!)

Other northern cities such as Leeds, York, Sheffield and Newcastle have exploited opportunities to expand by building new universities, developing iconic museums, introducing cultural events, and making huge improvements to the quality of life.

Take Newcastle, where I live, as another example; this city attracts thousands of people with the Sage Gateshead, The Great North Run, The Metro Centre, a vibrant night-life and two universities.

The renovation surrounding the city centre in the last few years alone is phenomenal, particularly around St James' Park where Newcastle University have redeveloped it to the point that it is almost unrecognisable. Other firms capitalising on redevelopment and construction include EY, who have made the most of new offices available in Citygate. Crown Plaza will open a new hotel in summer of 2015 and Newcastle College has also upgraded their infrastructure substantially. This construction work has been distributed to local architects, construction firms and logistic firms has certainly had a positive impact on the economy.

Similarly, travel links in our local area have been improved with the construction of Tyne Tunnel 2, and ongoing A1 improvements. But more can still be done. I was personally disappointed when I heard the plans about HM 2 as the whole idea was to connect the Northern cities to London. However, with improvements stopping just shy of York, I once again felt Newcastle was being unfairly rejected by the central government.

Political bias aside, I was interested to read recently that Labour's Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, has suggested that they may dramatically scale back plans for a new high speed rail network -replacing it with a new line linking the North East and North West instead. Labour's proposed line would go to Newcastle. Like many tax payers, I can't help but feel that we would see little improvement to our area on the £50 billion investment. New proposals could sway some voters as so far the only positive expansion has been from an investment courtesy of Hitachi which promises to create over 700 jobs in Merchant park which will really put the area on the map. 

Ed Balls has stated that the current Government have failed to "make a convincing case” for the HS2, and concluded that improving east-west rail would do more for the economy. It all seems a little contradictory and with the election due on Friday 8th May 2015. Perhaps all parties need to be mindful of the power of the Northern Powerhouse in the coming weeks.

What do you think? Do you think the North has more power than the political parties realise? Let me know in the comments below…

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