Northern Powerhouse

Is George Osborne serious about promoting northern cities? Richard Smirke asks the experts in our 9 Feb issue

George Osborne’s speech at the launch of the Northern Powerhouse initiative last June focused on his plan to build on the strengths of cities such as Leeds, Hull, Newcastle and Manchester by improving their faltering transport links, alongside investments in science and technology.

Agreements for devolved governments in Manchester and Sheffield have also brought hope that local authorities will have more control. However, with a backdrop of drastic cuts to local government spending, and promises of more to follow, The Big Issue in the North spoke to a range of politicians, academics, economists and campaigners to gauge their view on the feasibility, motives and impact of the Northern Powerhouse on the local and national economy.

These are excerpts from our cover story for the 9 February issue, with interviews conducted by Richard Smirke. For the full version, get your copy from your friendly local vendor.

Ed Cox
Director of think-tank IPPR North
“Our research shows the merits that treating the north of England as a metro region in a similar way to certain European and American cities… We need to ensure this Northern Powerhouse can compete with similar cities and regions in Europe – for me, that is the goal, rather than competing with London.”

Arianna Giovanni
Lecturer in politics at the Centre for Research in the Social Sciences, Huddersfield University
“There seems to be a real democratic gap here. The people did not have much of a voice in this plan.”

Sir Howard Bernstein
Chief executive of Manchester City Council
“Whether we call it a powerhouse or not it doesn’t matter. What I do know is that unless Manchester reaches its full potential there can be no rebalancing of the economy.”

Nicola Headlam
Postdoctoral research associate at the Heseltine Institute for Public Policy and Practice at Liverpool University
“Any of the niceties around future economic development and investment in technology are fleas on a slightly mangy dog compared to mainstream delivery being challenged.”

Paul Salveson
Co-ordinator of the Hannah Mitchell Foundation and Yorkshire First parliamentary candidate for Colne Valley
“What’s being suggested here is a mish-mash of different bodies, but without any real resources to do anything.”

Louise Ellman
Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside and chair of the Commons Transport Select Committee
“We have gone backwards under this government… We need to move away from rhetoric to a plan to implement this.”

Neil McInroy
Chief executive of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies
“This is small fry… It is sending out powerful messages but if truth be told it is long overdue.”

Richard Kemp
Leader of Liverpool Liberal Democrats
“The idea that Labour and the Tory parties had of make the city work and everything else will as well is just nonsense. I suspect the biggest stumbling block will be a highly centralised civil service that make Lenin look like an amateur.”

Esther McVey
Conservative MP for Wirral West and employment minister
“This is a great opportunity to really connect the north together and become the fighting force we know we are.”

Richard Wright
Executive director, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Industry
“My biggest worry is that politics will get in the way… The cynic in me at this moment says are they devolving money or the responsibility to make cuts?”

Charlotte Alldritt
Secretary to the RSA City Growth Commission
“We don’t give our cities the ability to spend the money that they contribute. Without those powers the political economy is always going to be looking at Westminster and saying: ‘Is this a fair and legitimate use of our taxpayers money?’”

Jane Thomas
Senior campaigner for Friends of the Earth
“When Osborne talks about the Northern Powerhouse, does he mean gaining Northern votes? I do not think they are committed devolutionists. But will those in power do something that makes a difference?”

Joe Anderson
Labour elected mayor of Liverpool
“In my view the elected mayoral system is the most democratically accountable and efficient form of governance… But I worry that Liverpool will be left behind.”

If you liked this article, we think you’ll enjoy these:

Interact: Responses to Northern Powerhouse

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.