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100% devolution called for in the North

Words: Laura Edgar
The north of England / iStock-157336374

Business leaders in the north of England have called for 100 per cent devolution across the Northern Powerhouse in a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The Devo 100 wants elected mayor and local leaders to have the powers to drive forward the economic vision of the Northern Powerhouse.

In one of his first speeches as prime minister, Boris Johnson promised to devolve powers, as well as give £3.6 billion in funding as part of that drive, to start “answering the pleas of some of our left-behind towns”. He also promised a new cross-Pennine rail route between Manchester and Leeds as part of the creation of Northern Powerhouse Rail.

There are five elected mayors and combined authorities in the North – Liverpool City Region, Greater Manchester, Tees Valley, Sheffield City Region and North of Tyne. However, businesses including Arcadis, Addleshaw Goddard, and the University of Hull have highlighted that large areas of the North, such as Cheshire and Yorkshire,  have little or no devolved control.

The letter 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. As you have recognised, devolution allows faster, more responsive decision making and delivery, stimulating economies and better addressing the causes of social problems, not just dealing with their consequences.

“It is the next step in creating a Northern Powerhouse that can truly deliver for people, communities and businesses right across the North of England. You have pledged a government for every corner of this country, and we commit to work with you to achieve it with a law to guarantee a devolution framework with the transfer of powers as a right to our places.”

Northern Powerhouse Partnership vice-chair Lord Jim O’Neill, who was part of George Osborne’s Treasury, which established the Northern Powerhouse, 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, or closing the North-South gap in education.

“Under the previous administration we have seen not a single new devolution deal started since George Osborne and I left the government.

“I welcome the prime minister’s commitment made in Manchester last weekend promising communities a greater say over changes to transport, housing, public services and infrastructure and as business and civic leaders we are backing 100 per cent devolution to cover every area of the North.”

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