Great Northern Conference: Government pledged levelling up funds due to pressure from northern leaders
Government would not have pledged millions in levelling up funds without the Northern Powerhouse, a flagship conference in Sheffield heard.
Northern leaders were successful in calling for cash for a string of regeneration projects announced in the Budget - including £37m for two projects in Sheffield - according to Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.
And he urged ministers to respond to that unity by seeing the North ‘not as seats to be fought over, but communities that want to come together’.
Mr Murison was speaking at the Great Northern Conference at the Cutlers’ Hall in Sheffield.
The event was organised by jpimedia and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership and brought together five metro mayors, council chiefs, business leaders, media and influencers from across the North.
Mr Murison said he hope government would ‘stay the course’ on its original vision for a Northern Powerhouse.
And he hoped Michael Gove’s arrival as Levelling Up minister would further strengthen its resolve.
He added: “We won’t settle for second best, we want the Northern Powerhouse we were promised. With the election of metro mayors we have the leadership who can make the changes we need to make the North more prosperous and improve living standards.”
CONNECTIVITY IS KEY
Connectivity was key to raising productivity but HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail had been ‘delayed and delayed’, he added.
“What message does that send to people who can’t access jobs in major cities? The North’s destiny must be in our own hands.”
South Yorkshire Mayor Dan Jarvis opened the event with a speech praising the ‘dynamism, resilience, creativity and colossal energy of the North’.
He also said the Levelling Up cash announced in the Budget was welcome but insisted it would do little to ‘fix inequalities’.
And the government’s approach was ‘under-resourced, undefined and over centralised’.
It was the third Great Northern Conference and the second in Sheffield. Last year Mr Jarvis gave his speech to an empty room at the Cutlers’ Hall due to pandemic. The event was streamed online. This year, hundreds of people attended in person and more watched online leading organisers to claim it had the biggest audience yet. The conference was hosted by Gamal Fahnbulleh, anchor with Granada Report in the North West.