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Gove challenged by Yorkshire leaders to build ‘economy that works for Northerners’

Gove challenged by Yorkshire leaders to build ‘economy that works for Northerners’

Yorkshire’s political leaders have invited Boris Johnson’s Levelling Up Minister Michael Gove to meet them to discuss how the region can help build an economy “that works for all Northerners and for the country”.

West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin and Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership chairman Sir Roger Marsh today joined forces with other political and business leaders from across the North to set how the region of 15 million people can lead what they describe as ‘the Fourth Industrial Revolution’ and help the Prime Minister deliver his ‘levelling up’ promises.

They will gather this morning at three coordinated events in Liverpool, Bradford and Gateshead to describe the five “gamechanger” requests which could help the North make a bigger contribution to the national economy and bridge the North-South health gap which widened during the pandemic.

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They have invited Michael Gove, the recently-appointed Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary, to attend the planned Convention of the North event to be held in Liverpool in January to turn the Government’s words into action.

The last Convention of the North in September 2019 saw Boris Johnson and a host of senior Tories descend on Rotherham in South Yorkshire in the months before the General Election.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “Today is a powerful statement of northerners’ desire to get on with the job of levelling up, working together across the North and with Government.

“Through a clear focus on our levelling up priorities of health, skills, transport, innovation and leading the transition to net zero, we can deliver an inclusive, productive, sustainable economy that works for all northerners and for the country.

“As an immediate action, we’re here in Bradford today to call on Government once again to publish its Integrated Rail Plan and commit to delivering both Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 in full.

“We will not be able to achieve levelling up without an affordable, effective and reliable transport system that connects people to jobs, education and essential services.”

Sir Roger Marsh, Chair of the NP11 group of Local Enterprise Partnerships across the North said: “The North has phenomenal assets in areas such as energy, advanced manufacturing, health innovation and digital that can power the UK’s post-COVID recovery and create jobs and opportunity for our people.

“As a combined region, we also have the scale to help the Government deliver on its ambition for a competitive and confident Global Britain.

“Successful partnership working between the public and private sectors is going to be crucial to delivering the gamechangers we have collectively identified. Businesses drive innovation and create quality jobs, both of which contribute to people’s health, wealth and quality of life.

“This is why the NP11 is adding its business voice to that of northern civic leaders in making this offer today.”

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The “gamechanger” requests to government focus on leading the ‘green industrial revolution’, closing the healthy life expectancy gap between the North and South through innovation, closing the education and skills gap, improving connectivity in towns and cities in the North and increasing private and public investment in research and development spending in the North.

Their report, backed by leaders including Bradford council leader Susan Hinchcliffe, South Yorkshire mayor Dan Jarvis and Hull city council leader Daren Hale, says the North is “in a unique position to deliver Levelling Up and the Net Zero transition”.

And it adds: “Six out of the nine existing Metro Mayors are in the North, with more to follow; our business community is united behind this objective; and we have the human, natural and economic assets to make this happen.

“The Northern Powerhouse has always been about maximising the opportunities of scale through investment in connectivity, skills, research and development and through devolution.

“Many of the institutional pieces are now in place, including through recent developments such as Treasury North in Darlington, Channel 4 and the new National Infrastructure Bank in Leeds, and the newly established West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

“And new Net Zero investments are rapidly taking shape along the east coast from Blyth to the Humber, together with the decarbonisation clusters in the North West and Teesside, and the hydrogen battery plants at Nissan and British Volt.”

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