Greater collaboration by northern leaders will make the UK more resilient to climate and economic challenges

A more strategic approach to transport, energy, trade and investment, and creating vibrant communities will enable the North to once again become a powerhouse and boost the UK’s economy while helping achieve net zero ambitions, Northern Mayors, Leaders, and businesses will say today.

Almost 1,000 leaders from across the North’s business, political and education institutions will meet today to thrash out a manifesto for the North, which will be presented to all political parties ahead of the upcoming General Election.

This could include proposals to fast-track bus franchising to make services quicker, cheaper and more reliable, creating a Northern energy strategy to harness the power of renewables that could heat and power the entire region, putting culture and the arts at the centre of placemaking so every community inspires and can thrive, and a strategic approach to funding railways including getting Northern Powerhouse Rail built in full once and for all.

The North of England’s leaders are committing to a deepening of collaboration on these shared priorities, as over 800 business, political and civic society leaders gather in Leeds for the annual Convention of the North. Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove and Deputy Prime Minister Angela Rayner will also address the Convention of the North tomorrow (1 March) and will face calls to back the manifesto in this pivotal General Election year.

Speaking with one “unified voice for the North”, Northern leaders will urge the next government to work with them on plans to grow the regional economy by over £100 billion and deliver a million new jobs by 2050.

The proposals up for debate include:


  • Reforming the Bus Services Act 2017 to allow local areas to re-regulate bus services, as seen in Greater Manchester, more quickly and easily.Data from Transport for the North and NP11 shows that over 3 million people – or 20% of the North – are at risk of “social exclusion” due to a lack of reliable and affordable public transport in their area.
  • Changing the way that rail infrastructure is funded, with more weight given to the wider social and economic benefits of investing in new lines and stations outside of London and the Southeast – particularly Northern Powerhouse Rail from Liverpool to Leeds through Bradford.Northern leaders are also expected to call for land safeguarded for HS2 to be ringfenced, in part to build greater capacity at the congested, centrally located Leeds Station through new platforms.

Net Zero

  • Building a single Northern energy strategy that harnesses the natural strengths of the landscape – from tidal power in Merseyside to wind power in Cumbria and the North East.Data suggests that with the right investment, the North could reduce its CO2 emissions by over 70 million tonnes – powering a “Green Industrial Revolution” and helping deliver national energy security by 2050. Currently, the North produces over half of England’s renewable energy.


  • Forming a new trading bloc of Northern cities to promote the region’s “super-sectors” of Advanced Manufacturing, Energy, Health Innovation and Digital, to secure greater research and development (R&D) investment for universities and businesses.Data shows that over the past decade, investment in R&D has risen from around £4 billion to £5 billion in the North, whereas in the “Golden Triangle” between London, Oxford and Cambridge, it has risen from under £15 billion to over £20 billion.

    A joined up Northern Trade and Investment Strategy, in partnership with the UK Government, could see a 5% growth in the number of jobs created or sustained foreign direct investment (FDI) – the equivalent of almost £200 million of extra investment.


  • Delivering a “Northern Creative Corridor” to replace local competition for arts funding with collaboration, through a new £50 million regional fund for small and medium-sized enterprises, and a “creative curriculum for the North” starting in secondary schools to inspire young people.The proposal is part of wider plans to tackle child poverty, with children in the North having a 27% chance of living in poverty, compared to 20% in the rest of England.

    Data shows that the North’s creative industries support 170,000 jobs, contribute over £10 billion to the regional economy, and help bring in £3.4 billion of annual spend by holidaymakers.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said:

“Northerners pay their taxes too. Yet while they see world-class infrastructure built elsewhere, our plans are the first to get downgraded or derailed, from HS2 to Leeds to Northern Powerhouse Rail through Bradford.

“With the North set to become England’s first truly devolved region, we have a historic opportunity to turn the tide and build a stronger, better-connected, greener and more vibrant North for the over 13 million people we represent as mayors.

“But to do that, we need the fair investment our people deserve. That’s what I’ll be urging Michael Gove and Angela Rayner for when I see them tomorrow, and that’s what our Manifesto for the North will deliver – practical yet radical plans to yank the UK’s economy out of neutral and deliver on our shared vision for a brighter North.”

Clare Hayward, Chair of NP11, said:

“When looking for resilience and leadership, the North has a strong story to tell. Our regional leaders and businesses have big ambitions to work more collaboratively and closely with our neighbours, while also competing internationally. Over the course of this year’s Convention of the North, I am certain that we will hear opinion from across the region and a range of different experiences.

“The NP11 has produced compelling research and evidence into the strength of clusters across the North, showcasing how regional strengths have the potential to flourish rapidly and make the UK an influential economic leader in the coming years and decades.

“The North is an entrepreneurial, inspired and outward looking region, leading the way in developing green and digital technologies that will shape our future. The region has immense potential, just waiting to be unlocked, because a better North, means a better country.”

Hosted this year by West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin and Chair of NP11 Clare Hayward, the Convention of the North provides a platform for the public, private and third sector to debate the challenges and opportunities facing the region.

The Convention comes as new and deeper devolution deals are signed across the region, with over 13 million people – or 90% of the North’s population – set to live in an area with a directly-elected mayor. This means that decision-making power on issues such as transport, energy, investment and placemaking will reside much closer to where people live.

Speaking at a high-profile panel discussion tomorrow, Northern leaders are expected to declare the North to be the first “devolved region” of England, where the vast majority of people have a local, democratic, empowered executive leader to drive “levelling up”.

Announcing that the first ever Northern Mayors and Leaders Summit will be held this Summer, partners will urge the next government to work with them to deliver a Manifesto “of the North, for the North, by the North”, in partnership with the private sector and across regional boundaries.

However, they will warn that to meet the scale of the challenge, the North of England will need an extra £1,500 of public investment per person, per year just to close the gap with the rest of England.

According to data published by NP11 and Transport for the North, fair funding for the region would enable its economy to grow by £118 billion by 2050, boosting UK growth, delivering over a million jobs, and bringing billions of pounds of extra revenue into the Treasury.

Written by Theatrefullstop