Heart of the Powerhouse

Chief exective Sheffield City Council John Mothersole
Chief exective Sheffield City Council John Mothersole
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Sheffield is securely at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse, according to council chief executive John Mothersole ahead of a ministerial visit to the city and a two-day conference in Manchester.

Lord Jim O’Neill, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, will speak on the next steps for the project at Sheffield University tonight.

Tomorrow, he is keynote speaker at the first really big, set-piece event since the idea was announced by the Chancellor in December 2014.

The Northern Powerhouse International Conference and Exhibition takes place over tomorrow and Friday in Manchester featuring John Prescott, director of IPPR North, Ed Cox, the chief executives of all the major cities of the North and thousands of business leaders.

John Mothersole will be on a discussion panel of chief executives from the North’s five major cities.

He told The Star that Sheffield had raised its profile following two devolution deals and was positioned as a pragmatic place with a good sense of whe re it’s going.

He added: “Sheffield is in the middle of the Northern Powerhouse. It’s a given that Manchester and Leeds are, but I’m confident they’re not making all the running on this one.

“Sheffield has got a really strong economic role. Leeds and Manchester are very clear they want Sheffield in this enterprise.”

A member of the editorial panel that drew up the schedule, Mr Mothersole said the conference was very business focused.

“I want businesses to be really mobilised about making demands of the Northern Powerhouse. There’s no manual, the conference is to develop an understanding of what it could be and for business to have a role in shaping it.”

But transport was the number one priority – fast trains between cities to create a single labour market, he added. And trying to persuade Government to build an HS2 station in the city centre was another source of frustration. HS2 Ltd’s own figures show it would create 6,500 more jobs than the Government’s choice of Meadowhall.

“It’s really frustrating that hard, impressive projections are met with a ‘Yes but’.

“The case is strong – we have to keep going.”