With less than a week until the new Chancellor of the Exchequer’s first Autumn Statement, a coalition of North West businesses has made an ambitious call for the Government to spend more on transport in the North per head than in London over the next decade.
The call to revolutionise transport funding comes from three NWBLT member companies Addleshaw Goddard, Grant Thornton and Atkins, who have produced an ‘Unlocking Growth in the North’ report. The report is the outcome of a series of events held over the last year, involving more than 100 organisations, to discuss how to boost growth in the North and rebalance the UK economy.
The latest in the North West Business Leadership Team’s series of business briefings for MPs took place on 2 November in the House of Commons. The principal speaker on this occasion was John Cridland, Chair of Transport for the North, who set out his vision of just what could be achieved by improving Northern connectivity in the years ahead.
Investment in the North’s transport infrastructure, John explained, is about closing the North-South economic gap, and to do this we need to create an extra 850,000 jobs across the North of England. The North’s key sector strengths are advanced manufacturing, energy, life sciences and digital and these are backed by the enabling capabilities we have in financial services, higher education and logistics. Transport connectivity holds the key to making the Northern Powerhouse work. Not only will HS3 (or ‘Northern Powerhouse Rail’) connect the North’s 16 million people, it will also considerably enhance freight capacity.
The next Forum meeting is taking place at the Thornton Science Park (5pm for 5.30pm) on 29th September and will debate the way forward for the North West’s scientific research and energy sectors, in the context of the post-Brexit environment. The panel will include Emma Degg (Policy Advisor, NWBLT), Myles Kitcher (Managing Director, Peel Environmental) and Paul Vernon (Chief Executive, Thornton Science Park)
The next Forum meeting will be taking place on Monday 4 July 2016 at 5pm for 5.30pm finishing by 7pm. It is taking place in the “Insatiable Curiosity Room” at Virgin Train Talent Academy in Crewe and will feature a panel discussion on“Strategic Transport Investment – what can it do for Cheshire and the North West?”
The panel will discuss how Cheshire and the wider region can reap the full benefits of the forthcoming investment into its transport infrastructure. Panel members will be invited to give an opening address before questions are taken from the audience.
The panel will include:-
Geoffrey Piper, Chief Executive, NWBLT (in the Chair)
Philip Cox, Chief Executive, Cheshire and Warrington LEP
Amy Harhoff, Head of Policy and Strategy, Transport for the North
David Thrower, NWBLT’s Transport Consultant
Dr Pete Waterman, Board Member, Cheshire and Warrington LEP
The North West Business Leadership Team today presented a Transport Update Report to the Secretary of State for Transport calling for further urgent investment in the region’s transport infrastructure both in the short and long-term. The Update Report follows on from “The North West on the Move” which was published in 2013 and takes into account the increased profile given to the region by the Northern Powerhouse proposals.
Over the next five years the NWBLT is calling for the roll-out of smart electronic passenger ticketing right across the North of England, completion of the planning of HS2 and a start on its construction, initial planning of the TransNorth west-east rail link and a rolling programme of other strategic transport investments to secure business competitiveness, jobs, growth and the rebalancing of the UK economy. The NWBLT is particularly concerned that the North West has suffered over many years from the lack of forward planning of both road and rail investment, causing uncertainty for business and undermining regional competitiveness.
The North West Business Leadership Team held a lunch for the newly elected North West MPs today. The event took place at United Utilities Head Office at Lingley Mere and was kindly hosted by their Chief Executive, Steve Mogford. The discussions at the event focused on current issues facing the North West region including skills, transport, science and its natural resources especially water. There was also an interesting discussion on the productivity puzzle and the NWBLT made a commitment to carry out some work around this issue.
The event also featured the North West Energy Squared Model – a large, interactive, computer controlled relief map of the North West region. The model aims to highlight the diversity of both existing and proposed sources of energy in the North West. It also introduces and promotes the concept of the tidal energy and road link scheme, its proposed location and key benefits.
Prime Minister David Cameron has given the green light to plans for a high-speed “HS3” rail link in the north of England, following a report by HS2 boss Sir David Higgins.
Sir David said better rail links in northern England were “desirable” and “possible” after being asked to look at ways of maximising the benefits of HS2. The Government said it would now develop a strategy looking at options, costs and a delivery timetable for HS3.
A report will be produced in March. Mr Cameron welcomed the report and said improving connectivity and reducing journey times was “crucial” to the government’s long-term economic plan for the north of England.
Cities like Manchester should have more power over their finances, says the RSA City Growth Commission. Allowing UK cities to make their own decisions on tax and spending could boost economic growth by £79bn a year by 2030, a year-long study has concluded. The amount equates to boosting current UK productivity by 5%, said the RSA City Growth Commission, which conducted the study. It is pushing for draft legislation to be in place by 2015.
The North West Business Leadership Team today warmly welcomed the continued progress with the planning of High Speed 2, which will provide the “heart bypass” that Britain’s north- south communications need if the North West is to enjoy effective transport links for the 21st century. In particular, it sees HS2 as a catalyst for the continued upgrading of the regional and local rail network in the North West, and key to the creation of thousands of new jobs by improving regional attractiveness to incoming businesses.
The next meeting of the North West Business Leadership Forum will be taking place at Bruntwood Limited, City Tower, Manchester at 5.00 for 5.30pm on Monday 12 May 2014. This meeting will be focusing on maximizing the benefits of the proposed HS2 high speed rail project for the North West, with a panel including Mike Blackburn (BT and the Chair of Greater Manchester LEP), Paul Chapman (Communications Director for HS2 Ltd), Alex Hynes (MD of Northern Rail) and David Thrower (Transport Consultant).
The recent publication of the “HS2 Plus” report by HS2’s Chairman, Sir David Higgins, and of the HS2 Growth Taskforce consultation, has raised the prospect of HS2 serving the North West somewhat earlier than previously anticipated. This in turn heightens the importance for the region of ensuring it is ready to make the most of the advantages which HS2 can bring to the North West. The meeting should be an interesting debate on the issues and challenges involved.