Leaders describe vision for Northern Powerhouse

More devolution and "great leadership" are vital to the future economic success of the North, a major conference on the Northern Powerhouse project was told today.

Lord Kerslake, chairman of the UK Northern Powerhouse Advisory board, also stressed that "fiscal devolution" was key to the North's future and declared it shouldn't let "recent setbacks" over devolution in some parts of the region stall its progress.

Looking back at the events of the past 12 months, including Brexit, he added: "The Northern Powerhouse is an idea that is here to stay. It has managed to surrvive the buffeting of the last year.

He also described the project as a "marathon" and said that change would happen "over many years." And he added that over the past 12 months it had become: "Increasingly clear that a successful Northern Powerhouse is essential to the country if it is going to tackle the deep structural economic problems we face and create a more unified country."

He told the conference: "The strongest leadership for the next stage of the Northern Powerhouse needs to come from the North itself."

Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, told the conference that there was a growing mood of co-operation across the North, with local authorities, universities and health services working together more closely.

Sir Richard Leese, Manchester City Council leader and member of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said that the North had already shown strong leadership and that much of the thinking behind the powerhouse drive had come from within the region.

Sir Richard said the region faced some real challenges and added there had been progress on some fronts, including HS2 and HS3 although short term investments including the electrification of the Manchester-Leeds rail line were "pretty stuck at the moment". And echoing Lord Kerslake's comments he said that the powerhouse project was a "long haul". The conference has brought together business leaders, world-leading experts and political heavyweights to help drive the success of the Northern Powerhouse.

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