“Regional embassies” suggestion for the North after report reveals huge image problem for London

A general view of the Houses of Parliament from the London Eye. Picture: Martin Keene/PA.
A general view of the Houses of Parliament from the London Eye. Picture: Martin Keene/PA.
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Political and business leaders in London are looking to forge stronger relationships with the North with moves such as “regional embassies” after new research showed that the capital has an image problem with the rest of the country.

Polling has shown that 82 per cent of Northerners do not think of London as an option for finding work and 75 per cent believe that the success of the capital does not benefit the North’s economy.

How can London's prosperity be shared by the North?

How can London's prosperity be shared by the North?

The research, published in a report by the think-tank Centre for London, calls on the capital’s leaders to strengthen relations with the rest of the country by establishing what it called “a powerful alliance of UK mayors”.

It said international trade delegations should be organised to allow London and the rest of the country to bid for business together, as well as calling for regional embassies to provide a space for British companies to do business in the capital.

The claims come after a YouGov poll commissioned by the Centre for London showed that just 51 per cent of Northerners claim to be proud of London as the capital, while 31 per cent said they are not proud. 

Dr Jack Brown, a senior researcher at Centre for London and the author of the report, said: “To many Northerners, London appears self-interested, resource-greedy and distant. But like it or not, London contributes hugely to national life, not to mention its vital economic role.

Our research has found that London has got some work to do to show that it takes its national role as the capital of England and the UK seriously. 

Dr Jack Brown, a senior researcher at Centre for London and the author of the report

“Our research has found that London has got some work to do to show that it takes its national role as the capital of England and the UK seriously. 

“Simply stating that the capital redistributes its wealth around the country is not enough. We must move beyond the figures and make the case for London’s place at the heart of its nation.”

The Centre for London said there were growing examples of politicians, businesses and cultural institutions from London and the North working together to the mutual benefit of both regions.

These include Transport for London working behind the scenes alongside Transport for the North to help build an ‘Oyster Card for the North’ and the capital’s promotional agency, London & Partners, working alongside other cities in the UK to market a joint international tourism package, branded Experience England.

Another successful initiative includes a growing link between the Sheffield Property Association and its London counterpart.

Martin McKervey, its chairman, said improved connectivity between cities were key to improving the UK’s productivity.

“If the UK is to truly compete globally it is vital that this relationship works for both the capital and the regions,” he said.

“Top of the agenda must be significant investment in transport infrastructure outside of London. Without improved connectivity between and within cities the UK’s economy will find it difficult to become more productive.

Doncaster's Don Valley MP Caroline Flint.

Doncaster's Don Valley MP Caroline Flint.

Don Valley MP Caroline Flint, the co-chair of the Northern Powerhouse All Party Parliamentary Group, said: “If the whole nation can share in gains of one of the world’s great city regions – this would be a welcome step forward.”

The Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, Henri Murison, claimed that infrastructure projects both in the capital as well as in the North of England were vital to the UK’s future economic prospects.

Mr Murison said: “Investment in infrastructure is not a zero-sum game.

“London’s growth needs to be provided for, through schemes like Crossrail 2, and in the North, we need Northern Powerhouse Rail committed to as soon as possible in order to unlock growth.

“This won’t happen without a virtual city which can be equal to London, [one that] is as productive but different from our capital.”