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Richard Bell

Five Northern cities join forces in Powerhouse pledge

The North’s five core cities have come together to work collaboratively and support the government in making its Northern Powerhouse vision a reality.

Leaders from Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle have signed a joint commitment to the plans, pledging to work with the government on rebalancing Britain’s economy.

In a joint statement, the cities have agreed that the Northern Powerhouse can only come to fruition through investing in people, places and infrastructure over the long term.

While devolution and enhanced transport between the five cities have been acknowledged as key facets of a stronger North, the statement’s signatories have committed to working together to boost skills, housing and enterprise development.

The leader of Manchester City Council, Sir Richard Leese, said: “Closer links will enable the great northern cities to compete not against each other but together at scale on a national and international stage.

“We need to redress a legacy of underinvestment in the North and capitalise on our existing strengths. Through sustained focus on this agenda we can unlock more jobs and increased prosperity.”

He added: “That is the prize. It won’t happen overnight but we are all determined to deliver it.”

The leader of Leeds City Council, Judith Blake, said she believes the cities can help drive economic growth and create jobs by collectively promoting better transport links and “closer connections”.

She explained: “Core cities and councils are undoubtedly best placed to make the big decisions around economic growth for their local communities, but hand in hand with that is the urgent need to address the continued imbalance in Government funding for key infrastructure such as transport and flood defences.

“Only once that imbalance is addressed can the rhetoric of the Northern Powerhouse match up to reality and enable the North to meet its true economic potential.”

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson, meanwhile, called the Liverpool City Region the “gateway” of the Northern Powerhouse, which he said gives it “the opportunity to secure the investment in the East/West rail and road links that we have lacked for so many years”.

He commented: “This investment is crucial to achieving the economic growth we are aiming for in order to fully exploit the assets of the City Region nationally and globally – such as the Superport – as well as stimulating more jobs and more business opportunities for our residents and our companies.”

An Independent Economic Review, commissioned by the northern leaders, has highlighted advanced manufacturing, health innovation, energy and digital as pan-Northern strengths.

Newcastle City Council’s leader, Nick Forbes, commented: “City leaders across the north are determined to create a stronger economy shaped by the values of those who live and work here.

“But we know that the Chancellor’s Northern Powerhouse will only succeed if our cities are handed the powers, and funds, to create more and better jobs.”

He continued: “The North is leading the way in a new era of life sciences, offshore engineering, automotive technologies and advanced manufacturing, and now more than ever is the time to hand to over the powers needed to back those industries locally.

“We know that will involve working together on major issues, as well as with cities and leaders from across the north as we seek to ensure this vision becomes a reality.”

Sheffield City Council leader Julie Dore said leaders need to focus on unlocking young talent to create more and better jobs for the next generation.

She said: “By taking control of our own skills agenda and working with local employers to design training, we can make sure we’re getting young people the skills they need to get into the jobs that will be created in our local economy.”

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