Public Sector Focus

07.01.20

One Northern council's shopping list for central government

Tony Oakman, chief executive of Bolton Council spoke to PSE about the Northern Powerhouse and the key priorities he’s like to see from central government.

From my perspective I think the Northern Powerhouse is significant to say the least in terms of the profile of Northern authorities and opportunities for economic growth across the North.

The second aspect of this is to do with influencing and shaping government legislation on topics such as economic growth and giving greater devolved authority and influence to the North, be that in health and social care, town regeneration or infrastructure and transport.

For Bolton specifically, as is beginning to happen, we want government to look at district towns and town centres as an opportunity to reimagine those areas to create more jobs, growth and economic benefit, including the overall wellbeing of the population.

I’d also like to see a focus on the right types of infrastructure, so of course trains and metros, but also automated vehicles because we think this approach would be a huge benefit to Bolton

And thirdly its about skills and capability, creating different aspects of niche development, be it digital or other skills areas to encourage local populations to thrive and move towards different jobs or have those jobs generated and created within our economy.

We have huge housing opportunities, particularly around areas of Brownfield development sites, there are pockets of opportunity for development which are huge in terms of mark-up and profit.

However, we need a slightly different approach to how investments and grants are made to support those developments and we think Northern Powerhouse and what we do in Greater Manchester will give us greater leverage and influence to do that.

We have a long shopping list of things we would like to see from Central government but keeping it short, I think we certainly want to see investment in areas of regeneration of towns and we have started to see that in Town Centres funds but we want a more substantial investment and something that gives us more flexibility in how its used.

We would want to see fast-track action around infrastructure and growth in terms of highways and digital, if we are going to get people to move here, we need to invest heavily in infrastructure in areas of public aided transport like Rail, Metro and electric or new types of fuel approaches.

The final area would be around climate change and the impact housing has on that, there’s a lot of ambition in terms of zero carbon, but I think the investment needed to see that progress is going to require not just investment in alternative fuel, but also new ways of living and travelling. This is why the infrastructure investment in housing and transport is key but with a climate change umbrella over it.

 

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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