I hope that those of you who managed to join Downtown’s Northern Revolution Conference at Media City yesterday enjoyed the occasion and left the event feeling inspired and fired up.
The idea of the conference was not to have a moan fest about ‘that London’ but explore how we can grow the economy of the North by helping ourselves.
We heard from a range of business leaders and decision makers on how positive things were across our great cities of Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool, and how the enterprise agenda was being fuelled by entrepreneurs such as Lawrence Jones, Shazan Qureshi and Matt Riley, and by entrepreneurial companies too, not least Bruntwood and Peel.
The move of the BBC to Salford was a focus for one of our keynote sessions, and clearly this has impacted positively on the media’s relationship with the North of England. On transport we were told that HS2 is not simply about cutting journey times, but capacity, and it was agreed by all that connectivity across the region was as much a priority as the £40 Billion project.
London was largely seen as a force for good by speakers and delegates alike, with a recognition that without our capital city UK Plc would be in deep(er) trouble.
Nonetheless, the overriding message from the conference was that the progress that we have seen over the past decade in the region could be accelerated if we could take control of our own destiny, rather than be fed southerners solutions for the challenges in the North.
Interestingly, and encouragingly, nobody whinged for more money. What was argued for was for more control over existing resource. We know what we need to spend our limited resource on better than Westminster mandarins and politicians.
The private and public sectors in the North have now established a track record of partnership working that has delivered transformational change, and with devolved power, responsibility and cash we could do so much more.
On skills, education, business support, economic development, planning and most specifically transport, a narrative around devolution emerged throughout the conference that was compelling.
Our job now, with your help, is to get this message across as forcibly across to the powers that be as we can. The Revolution has started – why not come and join us?