As the country prepares to head to the polls, Northern business and elected leaders have joined forces to publish the first ever Manifesto for the North – outlining the ambition to power up the North with support of the incoming Government.
Backed by the Wigan Post, the Manifesto for the North is a five-point plan produced by the Convention of the North and NP11 - a group of all 11 Northern Local Enterprise Partnerships – representing the North’s business drive and collective political will to influence major changes across a range of policy levers, from skills and education, to housing, transport, innovation, trade and investment, and clean growth.
It has been born out of the Convention for the North with NP11 event, which took place in Rotherham in September 2019. Hundreds of people of all ages and from across the North attended the convention – the largest gathering of its kind. Business leaders, education providers, politicians, youth groups and charities, came together to discuss and debate the key policy priorities that will enable a prosperous Northern economy.
Following a year that has seen the largest coordinated action on climate change to date, political and business leaders across the North of England have today backed the five-point manifesto which seeks to enable the North to lead a green industrial revolution and address the over-centralisation of the UK economy.
The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “This General Election must be a change election for the North of England.
“The time has come for the North to break free of the shackles of a London-centric Parliament and take more control over its own destiny.
“People here feel a deep sense of frustration that our political system has not worked as well for us as it has for others. It has left us with a second-class transport service, a housing crisis and a deep North-South divide.
“But, despite that, Northern political and business leaders share a positive belief in the potential of our region and its incredible people. We are optimistic about our future. The fact that we have come together across geographical and political divides to make this unprecedented and united call for change is a clear demonstration of the strength of our feeling.”
Roger Marsh OBE, chair of the NP11 said: “Our region led the first Industrial Revolution and today it can become the crucible for the fourth - and first sustainable - industrial revolution, but only if we take critical action now.
“This Manifesto for the North sets out the direction that we need to take, and marks the North coming together with one voice to tell the incoming Government what our ambition is for a thriving Northern Powerhouse.
“Our message to all political parties is clear; the North is ready to lead the transformation required for net zero 2050, enhanced productivity and a truly inclusive Great Britain. We stand united as a region. For the benefit of our future of generations, we ask the next Government, and politicians of all political persuasions to work with us and ensure this plan is every success that it deserves to be.”
The plan has been backed by the mayors of Greater Manchester and Liverpool, Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram.
Nick Forbes, Chair of the Convention 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.”
The game changers pledged for the North are:
1 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.
2 A commitment to rebalancing the economy as a formal HM Treasury objective, delivering transformational investment to power up the North. In addition the commitment promises a formal pledge toward to rebalancing in the Green Book, and Office for Budget Responsibility measurement of progress towards this objective.
3 A transport budget for the North:
This exclusive budget would help to enable the full delivery of the Transport for the North plan along with supporting the devolution of control and shared accountability for the entire region’s rail network.
4 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.
5 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.