Teesside Live has joined other newspapers across the north to call on party leaders to transform the region's economy
The North speaks with one voice today, as we call on every party leader to explain how they will unleash the potential of the North of England and its 15.4m people.
Mayors, council leaders and businesses have come together to publish a manifesto explaining how the North can become a true economic powerhouse creating wealth to benefit the entire UK - if we get real investment and the power to take our own decisions.
And local and regional news organisations across the North, including Teesside Live, are again joining forces to urge politicians to “Power up the North” and ensure the region’s needs are firmly in the spotlight in the run-up to the general election on December 12.
The Manifesto for the North has been drawn up by the Convention of the North, chaired by Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes, which includes mayors and leaders from Teesside, Bradford, Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and more.
Also involved was a body called NP11, which represents 11 business organisations called Local Enterprise Partnerships.
It sets out ambitious but practical plans for turbo-charging the North’s economy.
For example, the North is the UK’s energy powerhouse, generating 41% of England’s electricity. It can, and should, lead the transition to a zero-carbon economy.
And it sets out five demands of Government - whichever party is in power after the December 12 election.
- Local control of education and training, so that skills provision is connected to the North’s businesses and growth needs, creating opportunity for all our people.
- Making a commitment to rebalancing the economy a formal Treasury objective. This would mean scrapping current rules which lead to investment being concentrated where it has the biggest immediate financial benefits - which often means London and the South - and instead making it an official objective to power up the North.
- Giving the North its own transport budget for the North, so that roads, rail lines and bus services can be improved - and letting the region take some control at least of rail services,
- Letting the North lead investment and trade activities to drive export-led growth
- Backing the North to lead the green industrial revolution, investing in renewable energy, helping industry cure pollution, making existing houses environmentally-friendly and building the world-leading “green” homes of the future.
The Power Up the North Campaign was launched by newspapers and websites in June, as we called on the main political parties to spell out how they would end the North-South divide.
All the major parties are expected to put the North at the heart of their general election campaigns, and on Thursday Conservative leader Boris Johnson is reported to be visiting a venue in the North while Chancellor Sajid Javid delivers a speech in another part of the North, and Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell is speaking in Liverpool.
The manifesto warns that the region faces a challenge ensuring workers have the skills they need as the economy changes rapidly.
But businesses and providers could work together to ensure we lead the world in vocational and technical education, it says.
And the North is a great place to live and is building new homes, but centuries of heavy industry have left swathes of accessible brownfield land which would be put to good use - but which require costly clean up work.
Building high quality, truly affordable housing would help attract and retain a skilled workforce, growing the North’s share of the working age population and ensuring we take the lead in designing and building environmentally-friendly homes.
The North is also a leader in high-tech industries such as advanced manufacturing, health innovation, energy, and digital industries, which can supply well-paid and interesting jobs. But research and development expenditure is relatively low.
And the North’s enormous economic potential is being held back by poor transport.
The region’s leaders are calling on the Government to build both the HS2 high speed rail line and the proposed Northern Powerhouse Rail line - and to allow them to take control of bus services.
Roger Marsh, chair of the NP11, said: “Our region led the first Industrial Revolution and today it can become the crucible for the fourth - and first sustainable - industrial revolution, but only if we take critical action now.
“This Manifesto for the North sets out the direction that we need to take, and marks the North coming together with one voice to tell the incoming Government what our ambition is for a thriving Northern Powerhouse.
“Our message to all political parties is clear; the North is ready to lead the transformation required for net zero 2050, enhanced productivity and a truly inclusive Great Britain.
“We stand united as a region. For the benefit of our future of generations, we ask the next Government, and politicians of all political persuasions to work with us and ensure this plan is every success that it deserves to be.”