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26.06.18

Councils to hold first Convention of the North meeting in autumn, but discard legal body option

Council leaders and elected mayors from across the north will come together in Newcastle on 6 September for the first official meeting of the brand-new Convention of the North, which will be established this summer.

First mooted in February by Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram, mayors of Greater Manchester and Liverpool respectively, the convention will seek to create a “powerful new voice” for the region by bringing together political and business leaders with unions, community groups and other organisations to discuss the opportunities ahead.

Leaders met in Newcastle on the opening weekend of the Great Exhibition of the North to set out the details of this summer’s convention, which will offer the “first chance for a united north” to speak to government with a stronger collective voice – a “crucial step in preparing for the impact of Brexit.”

Delegates at the first meeting in September will have their say on the transport needs of the north – which were the original motivation behind the idea for a convention after widespread difficulties across rail services – as well as on Brexit, the education and skills agenda, and the need for greater devolution.

Cllr Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said the group will give “business, civic leaders and partners a powerful voice to engage with this and future governments on key issues.”

Newcastle City Council’s leader, Nick Forbes, added that the Convention of the North will also strive to “champion and challenge, promoting all that is best about the north while ensuring government works with us on creating a stronger, more prosperous UK.”

“This Convention will see representatives from across the north get involved in creating a vision for the north, and we’ll be setting out more details shortly,” he continued.

Leaders do not intend to turn the convention into a new statutory body, but it will nevertheless meet regularly and speak on important national and regional matters. More details will be unveiled in the coming weeks.

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