Uniting the North and why Combined Authorities are a 'game changer'

Back Uniting the North and why Combined Authorities are a 'game changer'

Stephen Young, executive director of growth, environment, transport and community at Lancashire County Council, spoke to PSE about key expectations from The Northern Powerhouse and how we can learn from Germany’s example.

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I think as a concept the Northern Powerhouse is massively important, trying to re-balance the economy is a key priority for people working in a Northern county. It brings an opportunity to unite the North as a single entity, to cut across administrative boundaries.

Having a minister to drive that agenda gives a strong sense that it’s a Government priority, my only complaint is that I’m not convinced it delivers what it intended to or what it is promising yet.

Its not gone beyond a brand on a letter head for me, one ambition was to bring the North together under an umbrella but it’s still really fragmented, so we haven’t maximised the potential.

Ideally for us, we would look to improve transportation, going North to South is amazing, we’ve got the West Coast Mainline and I can get to London in two hours, but going East to West is shambolic, the connectivity between Preston and Leeds, for example, is awful. So that would be a priority for us, to link together core cities.

I’d like to see the Northern Powerhouse take a lead on advertising the North and presenting us as a coherent, single economic entity, seeking to bring external investment to the North.

I was at a conference in Munich and was envious that in Germany, a huge collection of cities and towns come together as a singe header and present themselves as one, talking about transportation and jobs in the entire region and present as a massive economic entity.

I would really welcome devolution in the North and things like Northern Powerhouse Rail in the same way you get ScotRail, to get more control over that investment.

Being able to make decisions about our own destiny is essential to moving forward, as opposed to being dictated to by central government.

I spent 19 years working in Manchester and now I look at them with envy. What’s going on with the Combined Authority; the control, the funds and the speed that they can improve their region is amazing. We’ve struggled to get one here for various reasons.

I think Combined Authorities are a game changer, Greater Manchester has done so many amazing things and now it needs to go even further, with more devolved powers.


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