ARCHIE Norman, the former chief executive of Asda, has described Chancellor George Osborne’s plans for a northern powerhouse as “a very serious economic policy idea”.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Norman said: “If I was starting a new business today, I would go to Yorkshire every day of the week.”
The north made some of the biggest gains in last week’s Autumn Statement, with a promise from the Chancellor to encourage rail operators to replace unpopular Pacer trains for northern commuters, a £10m education fund for the region and even £1m for a Great Exhibition of culture and science. Across the three northern regions the measures Mr Osborne announced, including road and flood cash from earlier this week, add up to a £7bn handout to the Chancellor’s “northern powerhouse”. Missing from the list, however, was a heavily trailed announcement of devolution for Yorkshire.
In the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Norman said that he learned to love Yorkshire during his time at Leeds-based supermarket chain Asda.
He added: “More than that, I discovered it was a great place to employ people.
“On the whole, the Asda colleagues were more committed and more genuine than their equivalents in the southern metropolis.”
Mr Norman also said that, in order to compete, northern universities needed scale and collaboration.