The Northern Powerhouse was George Osborne’s baby. It may well have been thrown out with the bath-water.
However, after Osborne’s rapid post-Brexit referendum expulsion from the British Cabinet, he’s back with a new ‘think-tank’ designed to revive the Northern Powerhouse idea.
Launching his new Northern Powerhouse Partnership today he’s expected to say:
“When I launched the idea of Northern Powerhouse I said I would work tirelessly with anyone and everyone to make it a reality. But even I have been taken aback by the huge support it’s attracted, across political parties, businesses and communities. In the space of just two years, we’ve created powerful new mayors, committed to huge new transport and science projects, and attracted investment from around the world. There’s a real excitement now in the North about what we can achieve if we work together. I don’t want us to lose that.”
However, Northern Powerhouse was criticized by many for focusing too much on just one city: Manchester. Osborne’s own constituency, Tatton, is close to the city. But it’s also a constituency likely to disappear under new Boundary Commission plans. Osborne may also be seen to be just too much like political damaged goods to revive Northern Powerhouse.
In fact the very concept also lacked definition. For some, Northern Powerhouse was about power, politics and devolution. For others it was about industrial strategy or R&D.
At our upcoming workshop on Future Cities we’ll have several city representatives and thinkers discussing the citizen engagement opportunities that growing, more powerful, cities need to think about. We’ll have speakers from Leeds, Newcastle and Sunderland – and representatives from other cities – that will outline what the most important cities need to think about as they plan how they’ll support future citizens.