Humber region needs new growth strategy, says Lord Prescott

Lord Prescott has called for a growth strategy in the area around the river Humber.Lord Prescott has called for a growth strategy in the area around the river Humber.
Lord Prescott has called for a growth strategy in the area around the river Humber.
Former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has called for the Government to create a separate strategy for growing the economy in the Humber region after claiming the northern powerhouse scheme is 'divided on the Pennines'.

Speaking in a Parliamentary debate on regional inequalities, Lord Prescott, a former Hull MP, said the Humber was one of the North’s greatest assets and that more ought to be done to promote growth in the area.

It comes days after the unveiling of the Government’s industrial strategy spelling out plans to boost the country’s poor productivity, where Business Secretary Greg Clark outlined the importance of building on the strengths of the regions.

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Lord Prescott, who as Deputy Prime Minister launched an unsuccessful attempt to create regional assemblies, said growth patterns in areas based on river estuaries such as the Thames and Mersey were different to land-based areas.

He added: “The Humber has Siemens. It has the greatest energy and renewable plants developing. It has Drax Biomass, which is a very important part of it.

“Along the river it has a lot of industry. We have plenty of land. We have the fastest broadband technology in the country - mind you, it is not owned by BT, that is probably why it is the fastest. If you put all those things together, we have those essential bits of growth that the Government identify in their industrial strategy.

“I invite the Minister and the Government to look at all the reports we have done about the Humber. We developed the first low-carbon report four or five years ago for the Humber. We have done reports on carbon development and skills training. We have been operating on that.”

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Speaking in response to a motion by Labour peer Lord Liddle on regional inequality, he called for local authorities to work better together, adding: “The so-called northern powerhouse is not northern. It divides on the Pennines.”

Replying, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, stressed the importance of devolution deals and “powerful metro mayors”. A number of funding promises were made to areas with metro mayors in last week’s Budget, though Yorkshire has yet to agree a devolution deal.

Lord Bourne said: “I hope that Yorkshire comes forward with a deal. Hull should certainly be a part of that, and I look to...Lord Prescott, to use his good offices for Hull and other areas of Yorkshire to come forward.”