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The Northern Powerhouse requires strong leadership


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Mark Robinson, speaking at the UK Northern Powerhouse International Conference in Manchester, called on the government to appoint one strong leader to gather the thoughts and aspirations of the North and translate them into tangible outcomes.

This new role ought to be funded by either central or local government. The appointed individual should have a national profile, ideally be from the North, with good links to central and local government, the wider public sector and leading businesses across the North of England.

Mark Robinson commented: “To have generated the current level of momentum behind an initiative as important as establishing and growing the Northern Powerhouse, only for it to fizzle out, would be a real tragedy and a backward step for UK economic growth. This is why we need strong leadership to drive the Northern Powerhouse initiative and we advocate the creation of a new overarching leadership role. The person appointed should have strong links to the North and promote the interests of all aspects of the creation of a Northern Powerhouse.

There are numerous bodies representing elements of the Northern Powerhouse agenda, such as Transport for the North and Business North. The time is now right to bring greater coherence to these with a single representative championing all northern interests.

Mark Robinson, Group Chief Executive

Mark Robinson also discussed the need to define the relationship of the Northern Powerhouse to the rest of the UK, which will be crucial to the creation of any future strategy. The future strategy should also have an ambitious international outlook.

Mark Robinson continued: “London is the biggest economic city in Europe both in terms of GDP and for doing business with, therefore the Northern Powerhouse can’t compete and nor should it want to. We need to forge strong links with London, working together where possible for the benefit of the UK.

“The Northern Powerhouse ought to have an ambitious global strategy. This should involve development of a shared vision, strong governance arrangements, business growth plan, infrastructure and transport improvements. The strategy should take a balanced approach to attracting new business and working more closely with the private sector; but making sure public services are still a priority in the region.”

SCAPE was a sponsor at the 2016 UK Northern Powerhouse International Conference.