‘A manifesto for the north’ – businesses and politicians issue rallying cry to new Government

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.

Wednesday, 6th November 2019, 10:00 pm
Updated Friday, 8th November 2019, 1:05 pm
Reader pic Wind Turbines at Royd Moor Thurlstone taken by David Flynn

The first of its kind, the Manifesto will be presented to the Conservatives, Labour Party and Liberal Democrats, as a unified vision for how the North’s full potential can be unleashed.

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.

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BBC star Steph McGovern to host Convention of the North in Rotherham
Sheffield train station.

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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.

Five policy ‘game changers’ outline the North’s ambitions for clean growth, devolution, transport, education, investment and trade.

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.

The Moor in Sheffield.

2. A commitment to rebalancing the economy as a formal HM 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.

3. 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.

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.

Convention of the North at Magna Centre, Rotherham. Pictured speaking is Barry White of Transport for the North.

The manifesto has already been backed by an array of business leaders and politicians.

Richard Wright from the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Industry said: “There is an increasing realisation that the UK cannot grow and retain its position in the world based on further expansion of London and the South East alone.

“The North has to step up to the mark and it clearly has the potential to do so but we have been disproportionately under invested in for many years. This manifesto aims to reverse that and the potential benefits to all our residents and the wider UK are massive.

"Every person in the North needs to put their support behind this document. It is necessarily high level but clearly identifies the critical areas for investment. it does build upon the argument for more devolved power and resources which we also support.

Richard Wright, of Sheffield College and Sheffield Chamber of Commerce at the Star Round Table Business Meeting. Picture: Andrew Roe

“One size fits all across the country clearly does not work. We clearly have the opportunity to get much higher returns on the way we spend our money if we, the people who know our region best, are allowed to prioritise those investments."

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.”

And 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.”

Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis said he could not comment on the manifesto due to purdah, a period before elections during which civil servants are told to avoid controversial issues or expressing views which support individual candidates.

Manifesto for the North, however, is non-party political, is aimed at influencing whichever Government is elected after December 12, and Great Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has recently spoken out at length on it.