A politician who identified the priceless potential of Britain’s inner cities whey they were being ravaged by riots, his pioneering reforms helped to change the economic landscape of locations like Leeds and Sheffield.
Yet, while it is two decades since he last held high office, the ex-Deputy Prime Minister is one of the most prominent and passionate advocates of the Northern Powerhouse policy agenda which has superseded his work.
And this will be self-evident in Leeds today when Lord Heseltine delivers a keynote policy speech in which he will call for better planning so smaller towns, as well as coastal and rural communities, benefit from the policies that have delivered jobs, investment and opportunities to larger conurbations.
Echoing calls made by Don Valley MP Caroline Flint amongst others for more joined-up planning, the 86-year-old’s intervention comes at a crucial time when the Government is totally bogged down by Brexit and the Tory leadership contest.
Yet, while many Brexiteers will disregard Lord Heseltine because they vehemently disagree with his pro-EU stance that led to him voting for the Lib Dems in last week’s European Parliament elections, they do so at their peril because he knows that political neglect is the biggest barrier to the North realising its potential. As he says, this is not a time for complacency. Every day of delay and dither is to the detriment of the policy agenda of the North. And, far from shunning Lord Heseltine, aspiring leaders should be utilising his expertise if a new era of private and public sector investment is to be secured for these parts. That’s the challenge.