How the Northern Powerhouse could help meet economic potential

Becca Heron, director of Economy and Skills at Wigan Council spoke to PSE about the Northern Powerhouse and why transport links and skills are key to transforming the North.

The Northern Powerhouse is extraordinarily important, the UK has got one of the most centralised governments and economies and the North has been subject to massive underinvestment for decades.

The Northern Powerhouse looks at how Northern cities and towns can work together to create our own version of agglomeration economics and for me, it’s not about investing in the North at the expense of the south, as that would never happen, but how Northern investment can complement the South.

Making sure the country as a whole can meet its economic potential, because at the moment, swathes of the country beyond Birmingham are hugely underperforming

Transport is critical because we’re looking at a really large area and in terms of commuting, you could live in Wigan and work in other Northern cities if the transport allows you to do that, so for me, HS2 is really important.

We’ve always firmly and publicly supported HS2 but also Northern Powerhouse Rail, we don’t see it as either/or it all needs to be part of the same network.

And that reflects the other key priority for me which is skills, we have a huge a Labour catchment area in the North, so if this was underpinned by effective transport links and skills provision to meet the needs of local and growing business.

This would create a big catchment where you can live in Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester and work in any of them too, increasing your economic opportunities as individuals and businesses exponentially.

I’d like to see a commitment to greater investment in the North, really driving the devolution agenda as it was originally intended. Genuine freedom and flexibility to local places, at the right level.

For example, Transport for the North needs to be empowered to make the decisions required to put pan-Northern transport infrastructure in place.

City regions are the most appropriate level to plan skills provision we need much greater freedom and flexibility over skills provision at city region level, albeit we need to collaborate at the level of the North as well, so it’s about the right level of devolution.

We’ve made some progress in Greater Manchester but there’s still a really long way to go.



On the 4th and 5th of March in Manchester, the EvoNorth conference is uniting hundreds of chief executives, directors and senior managers from across the Northern Powerhouse responsible for the delivery of transformational public services to the millions of citizens located in the North.

Over the two days delegates get to collaborate and share best practice through a series of seminars, panel discussions, workshops and innovation hubs focusing on improved outcomes and transformational public services and get to hear from an eclectic mix of speakers and panellists including Sir Merrick Cockell from Localis and the UK Municipal Bonds Agency; Cllr James Jamieson of the LGA; Tim Wood, Northern Powerhouse Rail Director, Transport for the North; Roger Marsh, Chair of NP11 and many more... 

 Click here to secure your subsidised tickets to this CPD accredited event for only £89.95 each and save over £200.



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