Vaqas Farooq, head of Shoosmiths' Manchester office
Richard Bell

North West views: Shoosmiths’ Vaqas Farooq on the Northern Powerhouse

With the government’s vision of creating a Northern Powerhouse commanding the attention of the North West business community, particularly in the wake of the UK Northern Powerhouse International Conference & Exhibition, at Bdaily we’ve decided to run a new series of interviews to establish just what the region’s business leaders think of the plans.

Is the North West set for an overhaul in the coming years - one to turn the region into a true example of economic empowerment through business growth, job creation and prosperity?

Today we caught up with Vaqas Farooq, the head of the national law firm Shoosmiths’ Manchester office.

What does the Northern Powerhouse mean to you?

It’s an opportunity for us to take the initiative and have the autonomy to decide what’s best for our region, knowing we have the resources, support and infrastructure to do something about it.

Are there signs of the Northern Powerhouse starting to bear fruit in the region?

For sure. Better transport with the Northern Hub and additional investment in the trains and lines, plus investment in science with Graphene for starters. The massive support for the arts and culture with The Factory at St John’s is a big one for me. As a company, Shoosmiths is delighted to be involved with this, acting for Allied London, and we’re really looking forward to 2019. These types of projects take time and we should all focus our efforts on delivering them.

Has the government done enough to convince you of its commitment to Osborne’s vision?

To those who question the Northern Powerhouse concept I would say it is really up to us to set the agenda and make it happen. Let’s just do it.

Transport improvement is intrinsic to the Northern Powerhouse. Do you believe that spending billions on infrastructure will improve Northern productivity?

Absolutely. Transport was at the heart of the industrial revolution which would not have happened without it. Given some of our current transport seems to hail from that era, perhaps it’s time we had a 21st century Transport Revolution.

Are there any other areas which you believe money should be spent on, ahead of transport?

Start with transport to enable better movement of people and resources. Everything else will follow. Arts and culture is key to making us a global destination, can be a key point of competitive advantage and is critical to attracting people to live and work here.

While Manchester is a key city in the government’s vision, do you think enough is being done to cater for other important North West towns and cities?

No. I’m concerned that important towns and cities may get left behind and in 20 or 30 years we will regret that. We must not leave these places behind, so must find ways to make them attractive for inward investment and for residents and tourist visitors. Public money is crucial to unlocking this.

For all our latest Northern Powerhouse news and views, click here. Share your views and get involved with our latest interview series by contacting North West editor Richard at richard.bell@bdaily.co.uk.

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