A new report from the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) proposes devolution to a “Council of the North” as the way to make the Northern Powerhouse a reality.
And as well as coordinating and setting priorities, the Council of the North should have revenue-raising and borrowing powers, says the leading professional body.
ICE’s new report, Delivering a Northern Infrastructure Strategy, has been put together by its expert Northern Powerhouse Steering Group, which includes Penny Marshall, ICE North East Regional Director, engineering professionals, businesses and local government organisations from across the North. It is chaired by KPMG’s Richard Threlfall.
Penny Marshall, ICE North East Regional Director, said: “This report and the recommendations included are aimed at helping the Northern Powerhouse become not just a national success story but a global leader in economic productivity and quality of life. High performing infrastructure is one of the most important elements in providing the foundations for economic prosperity.
“Using local knowledge and local expertise ICE’s report and recommendations offer ways to help deliver an infrastructure with the capacity to increase productivity in the region.”
Richard Threlfall, Chair of the Northern Powerhouse Steering Group, added: “My vision for the Northern Powerhouse is a region that has the ambition, the confidence and the capability to wield both economic power and presence on the world stage. We need to take control of our own destiny, set up the institutions to coordinate a one-North approach and invest in best-in-class infrastructure and skills. The North was once the powerhouse of the world. It can be again. But only if we believe in it and work together to make it happen.”
In Delivering a Northern Infrastructure Strategy, ICE makes 12 recommendations:
- The creation a Council of the North with representation of LEPs (Local Enterprise Partnerships) alongside metro mayors and leaders of local authorities to oversee the delivery of the Northern Powerhouse vision.
- A northern infrastructure strategy to ensure the North’s balanced growth and improved productivity.
- A northern spatial plan to guide and coordinate integrated infrastructure development.
- The provision of coordinated lifelong learning and development to ensure the North has the future skills required by employers and to deliver its infrastructure investment programme.
- To kick-start the North’s economic resurgence, central government should immediately increase the level of infrastructure investment and empower Transport for the North to determine transport investment priorities.
- So the North can, over time, fund growth from its own resources, central government should devolve sufficient revenue-raising and borrowing powers.
- The North must adopt a more proactive and ambitious approach to encouraging private investment.
- The North should fully develop its specialisations in renewables and new energy technologies to maintain its position as the country’s energy powerhouse.
- Transport for the North must develop programmes that enhance network integration and connectivity, enable economic development and ensure that the region is ready for the arrival of HS2.
- Transport for the North should champion the adoption of new technologies in both passenger and freight transport, including the digital railway, autonomous vehicles and mobility as a service.
- The North must acquire and maintain best-in-class digital infrastructure with complete geographic coverage to unlock economic growth and enhance the delivery of infrastructure services across the region.
- To address the North’s housing shortage local authorities should put in place standard approaches to assessing need and have access to flexible funding arrangements for new developments.