May says Northern Powerhouse will still go ahead

He's no longer in government, but George Osborne's Northern Powerhouse project will remain.

Theresa May has pledged that her government remained committed to the Northern Powerhouse strategy to give wider powers and resources to city regions. 

Writing in the Yorkshire Post this week, May said: “Yorkshire is a key part of our vision for a Northern Powerhouse - our plan to help the great cities and towns of the North pool their strengths and take on the world.” She also said that the Powerhouse policy would be boosted with a “proper industrial strategy” to support key sectors of the Yorkshire economy.

“To help us realise the benefits, the government will now develop a proper industrial strategy to back Yorkshire’s strengths, whether it is financial and health technology in Leeds, advanced manufacturing in South Yorkshire, or innovative new textiles in West Yorkshire,” May said.

She also reiterated the government’s support for transport in the north. “We will make massive improvements to transport, making it easier to get around, and more attractive for business to move here. That means major investments to transform key roads like the M62, the M1 and A1. It means developing high speed rail – not just from north to south but also from east to west,” May said.

She also pledged improvements across Yorkshire, including new trains, and investments such as new railway stations at Kirkstall Forge and Apperley Bridge. “In total we’re making a record £13bn investment in transport across the north,” said May.

May also pledged government support for Yorkshire’s bid to bring the cycling world championships to the county, promising that the government would underwrite the bid and provide £24m of investment.

Her comments will be welcomed by businesses and politicians across the north, many of whom were worried that her government’s commitment to the Northern Powerhouse project was not as strong as that of the former chancellor George Osborne, and will quell fears that the May administration might lose focus on the north.

May’s addition of the brief of “industrial strategy” to the name of the new enhanced business department appears to signal a more proactive and government-led approach to investment and another positive sign is that the new business minister Greg Clark is a keen supporter of devolution. 

With elected mayors in Manchester, Liverpool, West Midlands and now Sheffield due next year and May’s renewed pledge to develop the north, it seems that the government remains focused on rebalancing the economy in every part of the UK. 

Businesses and politicians in the north will be awaiting chancellor Phillip Hammond’s Autumn Statement with interest to see what further investment plans he announces to help turn his prime minister’s words into a reality.

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There is a co-ordinated campaign in the London-based 'national' newspapers to make sure HS2 is replaced by Crossrail II. Story after story being run: CEO recruited by Rolls Royce. 'Rumours' that David Higgins will not renew his contract. 'What could the HS2 cash be better spent on?' etc etc. Don't make any economic plans in the North without insuring yourself against HS2 cancellation. No-one who works in the london media has ever worked as an adult up in the north and none have any intention of ever doing so. Remember that they are no longer national newspapers but newspapers for the SE and London.