Vibrant places

Unlocking growth in the North

The North of England economy is a significant global player, brimming with talented people, organisations and home to an innovative technology hub. It is a vibrant part of the UK and is a magnet for tourists, students, business and investment.

The potential for growth in the North of England is huge. There is world leading brands, facilities and technologies and sectoral capabilities. While the North’s potential is clear, the economy continues to face entrenched and difficult challenges.

Analysis clearly demonstrates lag both in terms of productivity and job creation when compared with London and the South-East. This asymmetry is widely acknowledged as unsustainable for the region.

Grant Thornton, along with Addleshaw Godard and Atkins have sought to contribute to the discussion about how the Northern economy can be grown. Over the last 12 months we gathered our collective clients, friends and collaborators over a series of dinners to discuss this growth agenda, with a particular emphasis on transport.

The main messages were:

  • A better connected North will deliver a higher performing economic entity.
  • Infrastructure projects have a catalysing significance beyond their stated purpose and can serve to attract global audiences.
  • Well-connected, accessible vibrant cities are magnets for inward investment.
  • Enhanced freight connections help manufacturers send their products to export markets more quickly and at lower cost.
  • A high capacity transport network will mobilise the workforces spread across the core cities and wider areas.

Delivering these outcomes requires a long term strategic vision and investment plan. Unlocking growth in the North identifies five points as the key building blocks for transformational growth in the North of England:

  1. To establish Transport for the North as a statutory sub-national transport body responsible for specifying and delivering its long-term multi-modal strategy and investment plan.
  2. For Transport for the North to become the commissioning body for Network Rail in the North by 2018 and to have the appropriate decision making powers in relation to the funding allocations for both the railways and highways.
  3. The Northern and Transpennine Express franchises to be fully devolved to Rail North and for Rail North and Transport for the North to unite as a single body, making local elected leaders across the region responsible for the decisions on transport
    infrastructure and services.
  4. North specific public funding settlements for operation, maintenance, renewal and enhancement of railways and the highways network in the North to be implemented for Control Period 6 and RIS2 to enable targeted investment and greater efficiency on where and how public money is spent on transport infrastructure in the region.
  5. To create momentum by pushing through the well-developed transport infrastructure schemes currently awaiting government approval.

To find out more, please contact Dan Mansfield.

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