North East Urged to Walk Tall
The Newcastle Evening Chronicle is reporting that the North of England was urged to be confident and boast about its successes, as leaders from across the region gathered at Westminster. Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes said the North needed to fight the belief that it was in decline. He said: “We must have confidence to walk proudly as a North.” And he said towns and cities from every part of the North must unite to win billions in funding for transport and more, as fellow council leaders talked of creating a “virtual city” of 10 million people.
Coun Forbes joined Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen and the leaders of Leeds and Manchester City Councils for the launch of a prestigious new group to back the North. Members include Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott, MPs from Yorkshire and Carlisle, former Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine and Lord O’Neill, the former Treasury Minister who worked closely with ex-Chancellor George Osborne to develop the Government’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ policy.
The new Northern Powerhouse All Party Parliamentary Group will aim to improve educational standards across the North, improve rail, road and air services, help business and convince the Government to provide further devolution deals for the region.
Coun Forbes said it would challenge the Government over issues such as lack of funding but also champion the region. He said the North was “the beating heart of modern Britain’s economy. The new economy of a new Britain”. But he warned that a perception that the North is failing was holding it back.
“The Northern Powerhouse for me is about turning around this narrative that some people have, particularly when you come out of the North, that we are in decline, and that we as local politicians are simply managing decline. I absolutely refuse to buy into that narrative. You only have to look around at the resurgence of our major cities.”
He added: “We have to turn around that narrative of decline, not just by making sure we get our fair share of investment. But that we turn round this sense that we don’t have confidence in ourselves.”
Coun Forbes hailed the North of Tyne devolution deal, which will create a directly-elected mayor to serve Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland, saying it would give the region “a seat at the top table when the big issues that affect the future of out nation are debated”.
And highlighted the work of Transport for the North, the region’s new transport body which is set to publish plans in January for a dramatic improvement in transport infrastructure.