'Ambitious and unified' call for real change from new government in manifesto for the North

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Leaders across the political divide have been warned to replace rhetoric with decisive action to deliver key priorities for the North of England which are set out in a bold manifesto launched ahead of the General Election.

Parties of all colours have been given the challenge of not only promising to make improvements for the North – but actually delivering.

Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the NP11 board. Photo: JPI Media

Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the NP11 board. Photo: JPI Media

Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the NP11 board, which brings together Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) from across the North, said: “Our region led the first Industrial Revolution and today is can become the crucible for the fourth - and the first sustainable - industrial revolution, but only if we take critical action now.”

The manifesto - the first of its kind - puts the people of the North who have “wit and grit” at the centre of all proposals and pushes for power to be put in their hands to make the decisions which will impact them.

Jim Hubbard, Head of Regional Policy, CBI, said: “The next government must set out plans to devolve powers regionally to ignite a new era of economic prosperity across the North and beyond. It’s time to harness devolution and work together to achieve shared prosperity.

“For Yorkshire and the Humber, this means setting out a clear framework for devolution, so that local authorities know what’s on the table when it comes to securing new powers and funding for the region. Business wants to see action, both for existing deals which remain unsigned, and for future deals that will unlock productivity gains across the region.”

Some of the more ambitious demands in the manifesto include a fund which would allow brownfield sites to be turned into areas suitable for housing, rather than being left to rot.

And a boost to the North’s exports, where less is exported than the national average.

Other policies include:

- Local control of education and training, skills provision that is systematically connected to the North’s businesses and growth needs, creating opportunity for all our people.

- A commitment to rebalancing the economy as a formal Treasury objective, delivering transformational investment to power up the North, a formal commitment to rebalancing in the Green Book, and Office for Budget Responsibility measurement of progress towards this objective.

- A transport budget for the North, enabling full delivery of the Transport for the North plan and supporting the devolution of control and shared accountability for the region’s rail network.

- Ownership of, and freedom to lead, investment and trade activities to drive export led growth, with a greater scale of investment to level up the North’s export and inward investment activities.

- Backing the North to lead the green industrial revolution, harnessing and investing in its prime capability in renewable energy, decarbonising industry, retrofitting existing housing stock and building new homes to the highest standards.

The manifesto was born out of the Convention for the North with NP11 event, which took place in Rotherham in September 2019, with the Prime Minister making a speech.

It comes as the Northern Powerhouse Partnership said the North would be the place where the election is won or lost, and appealed to party leaders to make keynote speeches in the region.

Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, added: “This manifesto is an ambitious and unified call to arms by political and business leaders from across the North. There is a huge amount of untapped potential in the North which needs harnessing to meet the great challenges of our time. Challenges such as climate change, helping people to escape poverty and creating the opportunities for all of our people to enjoy the prosperity that comes with economic growth.

“We are therefore calling on the next government, whatever political persuasion it is, to back our vision and bring forward the changes needed to enable the North to finally deliver the game changing improvements people in the North want and deserve to see.”

Nick Forbes, Chair of the Convention for the North and leader of Newcastle City Council said: “Our North is one made up of many different and distinct places, but by working together like this we have shown we are a powerful region which is prepared to speak with a one voice and do what is needed to create opportunity for the future.

“We are united in our shared belief that the North is central to the rebuilding of the UK. By coming together on a cross-geography and cross-party basis we have proven that our ambition for our communities transcends traditional boundaries.

“We need the next government to be on our side. If they are prepared to commit to our game changing manifesto we are clearly read to deliver.”