Wednesday 17 August 2016

First published by The UK Northern Powerhouse Conference

The UK Northern Powerhouse has appointed four Yorkshire business heavyweights to its advisory board in order to assist it in driving forward its plans for supporting significant growth in the Northern economy.

Sheffield City Council’s chief executive, John Mothersole, Huddersffield’s Ajaz Ahmed (the founder of Freeserve) and Roger Marsh OBE (Chair, Leeds City Region LEP) will all join the board, which will be chaired by Sheffield’s Lord Bob Kerslake. Lord Kerslake is also a former chief executive of the council.

The group will support UK Northern Powerhouse in matters including reviewing and monitoring government responses to the ten recommendations outlined in the Outcomes Report of the 2016 UK Northern Powerhouse Conference. These include the need for a regional strategy for Science, Research and Skills, better engagement with corporate transport infrastructure users and providers and a Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.

They will also be instrumental in proposing relevant issues and topics for inclusion in the 2017 UK Northern Powerhouse International Conference & Exhibition, which will take place on February 21 and 22 at Manchester Central. The Advisory Board will in addition, be responsible for championing innovative private sector Northern Powerhouse related work projects that will make a contribution to the realization of economic growth in the North of England.

The four Yorkshire business leaders will be joined on the advisory board by other leaders from the field of business and local government from the region and beyond including Alexandra Jones (CEO, Centre for Cities), Paul Marsh (Head of Development and Finance, Capital Investment Group, Department for International Trade) and Sarah Green (Director of Regions, CBI).

Earlier this year the UK Northern Powerhouse Outcomes Report was published following substantial research into business attitudes at the 2016 UK Northern Powerhouse Conference and Exhibition, which took place in February.

The report includes a range of recommendations as next steps for those concerned with ensuring the Powerhouse fulfils its potential. These include simplified governance encapsulating devolved city regions and central government and revenue raising powers for local government in order to enable them to re-invest locally.

The group has also called for the establishment of a Northern Powerhouse Export Agency and a Northern strategy for science, skills and research, along with the creation of a Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.

Another key strategy identified by the Northern Powerhouse includes the acceleration of plans for the HS2 (including a link to Liverpool) and the HS3 to better connect Manchester and Leeds. As well as improved Transpennine connectivity linking the north’s two great ports Liverpool and Hull.

Martin Venning, director of UK Northern Powerhouse Conference and Exhibition, said: “This is a pivotal period for the UK Northern Powerhouse. The ramifications of Brexit and its attendant effects on the economy mean a strong force is needed to ensure that the interests of the North are well-represented and – more importantly – that the initiatives that will make a difference in this region actually come to fruition.

“The Northern Powerhouse  Independent Economic Review published by Transport for the North has demonstrated that if the right steps are taken, then the Northern economy can expand by an extra £97bn and 850,000 jobs by 2050. However, without the right action, the North will be further alienated from the South East and many opportunities will be lost.

“This transformation of opportunity in the North cannot be reached by Government funding alone. We need business, policy-makers and other key stakeholders to come together and play their part in building a stronger, more productive and stable Northern economy. Our advisory board has been carefully selected to help us achieve just that and we couldn’t be more pleased with these appointments.”

Lord Kerslake added: “The proper execution of the plans outlined by the UK Northern Powerhouse have the potential to transform the region, both in terms of its economy and the life chances of those who reside within it. I am delighted to have been appointed to the advisory board of such an important initiative and look forward to playing my part in ensuring that these plans happen.”

The 2017 UK Northern Powerhouse Conference and Exhibition takes place on February 21 and 22 at Manchester Central and is expected to attract some 3,000 delegates over two days.

The conference is one of the few events to attract delegates from across the entire range of sectors, with leading political, academic and business figures from across the North of England present.

Topics being addressed during the conference include productivity, manufacturing, transport and infrastructure, housing, devolution competitiveness, productivity and the North as an international powerhouse.