Director of the Northern Powerhouse Henri Murison has called for “100%” devolution of the North – and insists HS2 will bring “talent” and “growth” to the region.
As reported by Chronicle Live, Henri Murison appeared on the Sophy Ridge on Sunday show on Sky News, and described devolution as a “key step” in unlocking the region’s economy.
The Northern Powerhouse currently has elected mayors in five regions – Liverpool City Region, Greater Manchester, Tees Valley, Sheffield City Region and the North of Tyne.
Speaking from Bradford, Mr Murison said:
“Devolution is a key step we need to take because unless we unlock the northern economy, even if we improve the infrastructure, we won’t have the skills and talent that our businesses need.
“So if you look for instance here in Bradford we don’t have a directly elected mayor with responsibility for improving services here in Yorkshire, outside of the Sheffield city region.
“We don’t have that in Cumbria or in Lancashire or further down in Cheshire in the North West.
“We need to fix that problem so rather than half the North having a directly elected mayor, we get to a 100% figure.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently outlined he has no intention to scrap the HS2 high-speed rail line despite commissioning a review into the project.
Mr Murison believes the multi-billion proposal would help “rebalance” the economy as part of an improved wider network.
“I think what we would say about HS2 is that it’s more valuable because it would be linked to Northern Powerhouse Rail so the train line that the Prime Minister backed last week between Leeds and Manchester, that is part of the wider network to get you from Newcastle to Manchester Airport, from Hull to Liverpool.
“That wider network, when you plug it in HS2, will really rebalance the economy and I think that that challenge that we want people to get around the North of England for jobs, we also want to be able to bring in talent from slightly further afield and [I hope] people will go to Birmingham.
“If you live in the North of England, in Leeds or Bradford, it is almost impossible other than by getting in a car to go to places like Birmingham, the transport networks to get around and between our regions are absolutely appalling.
“So in this part of the world where we haven’t built a new railway east to west since the Victorians, I think it’s perfectly right that the country builds a new line for instance from Leeds to Birmingham and on to London, a new line from Manchester to Birmingham and a new line between Leeds and Manchester.
“If we do that, we will get those really transformative economic benefits.”
Mr Murison described progress on the Northern Powerhouse under Theresa May’s Government as “lacklustre”, but has indicated signs under the new Prime Minister already seem more promising.
“I think what Boris Johnson announced last week including the funding and a commitment to fund the new line between Leeds and Manchester to really transform and unlock the economic potential is a completely new approach from the Government.
“I think that particularly by appointing those like Rishi Sunak [and Jake Berry] who are strong supporters of northern infrastructure, I think we have also got a team around the Prime Minister who can genuinely deliver.”
Source: Chronicle Live