Give all of the North devolved powers, urge business chiefs

Lord Jim O'Neill
Lord Jim O'Neill
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One hundred Northern business leaders have written to the Prime Minister to call for 100 per cent devolution across the Northern Powerhouse.

The Devo 100 letter urges Boris Johnson to further Power up the North by devolving powers currently in Whitehall to elected Mayors and local leaders, allowing them to drive forward the economic vision of the Northern Powerhouse.

The Prime Minister has previously backed devolution as a means of making the UK less centralised.

He recently used his first major policy speech outside London to commit to a new rail line from Manchester to Leeds, as the first step towards creating the Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) network.

Currently, the Northern Powerhouse has elected mayors in five regions – Liverpool City Region, Greater Manchester, Tees Valley, Sheffield City Region and North of Tyne.

Large areas of the North have little or no devolved control – including Lancashire.

With the five existing deals,47.1 per cent of the North is now governed by a Mayor, while 69.6 per cent is covered by a combined authority.

The letter, signed by senior business figures from companies including Bruntwood, Leeds Bradford Airport and Associated British Ports, called on government to put more power in the hands of the 15 million people of the North.

It states: ‘Today we are backing your commitment of devolution everywhere, and as leaders are backing 100 per cent devolution to cover every area of the North. “

Northern Powerhouse Partnership Vice-Chair Lord Jim O’Neill said: “As I recommended in my report for the Cities Growth Commission, it is only by devolving further powers that we will see the North pull its true weight in economic terms alongside interventions in transport – like the new line between Leeds and Manchester as part of Northern Powerhouse Rail.”

Lancashire has yet to agree on a combined authority and elected mayor – which has been a Government pre-condition for devolution up to now.

The Northern Powerhouse letter has been signed by scores of leading business people from across the North.

They include:

Bob Ward, EY Managing Partner for the North West;

David Duffy, Chief Executive Officer, CYBG/Virgin Money

Henry Brooks, MD, Tatton Group

Sharon Pond, CEO, Marketing Cheshire

Barry Leahy, Managing Director, Playdale

Rachel Mcqueen, CEO, Marketing Lancashire

Steve Fogg, Chairman, Lancashire Enterprise Partnership

Tony Attard, CEO, Panaz Holdings

Frank Mckenna, Chief Executive and Group Chairman Downtown in Business

Miranda Baker, Chief Executive, East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce

John Heaps, Chairman, Yorkshire Building Society.

Jüergen Maier, Chief Executive, Siemens UK

Steven Underwood , CEO , The Peel Group.