PM told to deliver “genuine devolution”

The Prime Minister has been urged to stand on the side of “genuine devolution” for the North of England.

The call from the Northern Powerhouse Partnership follows Boris Johnson’s pledge to “do devolution properly”.

Speaking at the Convention of the North, a meeting of 1,000 senior business leaders and politicians in South Yorkshire, the PM promised elected mayors in the region London-style powers over local rail fares, timetables, rolling stock and stations.

He told the gathering: “It is local leadership. Trusting people to take back control and run things in the way they want to.

“Only local champions can really make the difference for their towns and their communities.”

The elected mayors of Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region, Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram, welcomed the announcement. Both areas already have devolved powers.  

Lancashire has struggled to secure a devolution deal with the government. The county has so far failed to come up with a solution that would see it gaining control of areas such as transport and skills and the large amounts of cash that go with that.

Only local champions can really make the difference for their towns and their communities

Mr Johnson also announced a new Northern Powerhouse growth body to drive the region’s economy and to “maximise the power of the North”.

Commenting on the speech, the director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, Henri Murison, said: “The Prime Minister needs to stand on the side of genuine devolution, with more powers for mayors and their colleagues and deals for areas from Cheshire to much of Yorkshire which have so far missed out entirely.

“Any new growth body for the North should be accountable to and driven by those elected mayors and civic leaders with a genuine mandate to represent the public, and have serious financial powers.

“The causes of the Brexit vote in the North were not so much about Europe in many places, but more about feeling a loss of control.

“If the North is to take back control it must be the Northern Powerhouse that shapes its own destiny.

“However much we trust Jake Berry MP as our voice at the Cabinet table, relying on Whitehall to back us and our plans to rebalance the country is not enough.

“From leading a revolution to decarbonise the country’s energy needs whilst growing our industry, backing Northern manufacturing, or closing the gap in how the most disadvantaged in our schools do, the Convention of the North will prioritise addressing productivity and unlocking economic potential. The Prime Minister should take note.”