THE head of the Confederation of British Industry last night said investment in better coast-to-coast and north-to-south transport links will harness the power of Britain’s great northern cities and help rebalance the economy.
Speaking at the annual Yorkshire and Humber CBI dinner, John Cridland added that devolution of powers from Whitehall to the regions could spread the recovery across the UK.
But he called for the transfer to move from the planning phase to delivery as quickly as possible to ensure local people benefit sooner rather than later.
The director-general also paid tribute to the “forgotten army” of medium-sized businesses, which he said generate turnover of £42bn and employ 290,000 people in Yorkshire despite accounting for less than one per cent of all firms in the region.
Mr Cridland said: “There’s real potential for these dynamic firms to create more growth and jobs.
“But to do this, business leaders and politicians must take action to tackle the three C’s which can unleash the potential of medium-sized businesses - confidence, capital and capabilities.”
On the case for being in a reformed EU, Mr Cridland said: “Despite the sluggish growth in the Eurozone, Europe is still an enormous opportunity for future growth. Giving us access to a single market of 11 trillion pounds and 500 million customers.
“Global companies are choosing to invest in Yorkshire and the Humber and the UK precisely because we are a gateway to Europe.
“As the prime minister continues his reform negotiations, we need to keep pushing for an EU which is more competitive, more open and more outward looking not just for the UK’s benefit – but Europe’s too.”
The dinner was held at Leeds Town Hall and attended by hundreds of business leaders.