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Northern Powerhouse Q&A - Kevin Parkes

Northern Powerhouse Q&A with Kevin Parkes, Executive Director of Growth & Place at Middlesbrough Council

How important do you think the Northern Powerhouse is?

It’s very important and its emphasis is increasing. It’s providing a much needed strategic, national approach to regenerating the regions outside the home counties.

What will it mean for Northern councils?

I think how it’s been rolled out in terms of areas more distant than Manchester and Leeds, probably needs to be given some consideration outside the big core cities. There are areas such as Middlesbrough and Teesside that would find it greatly beneficial if they had more of a direct dialogue with the Northern Powerhouse on a variety of issues, so that the needs and issues for places like this are better understood.  

What do you hope it achieves?

It’s got to help contribute to a national strategy for economic and social convergence for the UK. To stop the polarisation of the country into two nations of the perhaps and the perhaps not.

What has it done for you already?

So far, the emphasis on rail in particular has been very helpful and very well managed. It has given a much-needed boost to the investment, dialogue and strategy associated with rail in the north. I think the approach for rail has to be replicated across other areas of public policy and intervention including inward investment, housing and strategic planning.

Now we have a majority government, what commitment would you like to see?

I’d like to see them come quickly on their commitments on the future High Streets Fund, The Towns Fund and support the development of modern infrastructure. This includes better connectivity between the main northern conurbations such as Teesside, Liverpool and Manchester.

A clear economic strategy for how to regenerate the north in terms of creation of jobs, wealth and opportunity. And finally, I’d like them to seriously address the most rundown and deprived communities in the north and support the areas that are clearly suffering from long term terminal decline.   

What feelings do you have on devolution?

Positive, I think it’s brilliant.

It’s great to have investment devolved from Whitehall. I think there’s a bit further needed to go and we should be embracing it in the north. Transpiring of the powers and decision making, I think that is still a bit of a mixed bag, I still think that there’s much more needed to be done.

There’s a degree of protectionism, more probably from the civil servants in Whitehall towards their own department and there needs to be an acceleration of devolution. It’s proving to be a very positive impetus in terms of creating momentum for social and economic regeneration in areas like Teesside and Middlesbrough.  


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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