Downtown pulled together some impressive senior voices from Yorkshire and the North West at the Northern Revolution conference in July. It served as a rallying call to Northern business leaders, academics and entrepreneurs to discuss the change needed to accelerate economic growth in the northern regions.
Shortly afterwards, Susan Williams (pictured) was appointed to the House of Lords, a great opportunity for one of the region’s leading Conservative politicians. Also on stage were chief executive of Leeds City Council, Tom Riordan, Liverpool Vision chief executive, Max Steinberg, and Sir Howard Bernstein, chief executive of Manchester City Council.
The point of it all was summed up pretty well by Frank McKenna, our chief executive of Downtown in Business, who said: “What we need is a genuine decentralisation of the management of government power and funding so that we can take greater responsibility for our own destiny.
“Downtown is calling for a Northern Revolution that demands a transfer of decision making powers around the big strategic issues of education, skills and training, transport, planning and economic development to elected city regional mayors, supported by city region authorities.”
High on the day’s agenda was HS2 and the fundamental issue of capacity over speed in order for it to meet business travel needs in the North of England. It was suggested that while travelling is no longer downtime, this will certainly not be the case if passengers are packed onto a train and forced to stand.
The conference also heard from three entrepreneurs who agreed there is a requirement for Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool to pull together, helped by the HS2 network, to ensure economic growth in the North of England. They said that opportunities for investment, in the right schemes with a sound proposition, are out there, as long as people with the integrity to deliver can be found.