More devolution, additional powers for regional mayors and allowing city regions to take control of their own destiny will go a long way in resolving some of the perennial challenges businesses outside of London face.
That was the message of the Chief Executive of property giant Bruntwood, Chris Oglesby, at a special breakfast event hosted by Downtown Manchester this week.
Oglesby, in conversation with Downtown boss Frank McKenna, said that in the key areas of skills, talent retention and transport, additional responsibility and resources should flow from Westminster to the regions.
“London is a great city, but if we are genuinely wanting to re-balance the UK economy, then cities and city regions must be given the opportunity, the powers and the resources to shape their own destiny.”
The property entrepreneur described the current issues with Northern Rail as “A disgrace. An absolute shambles”. And he argued that transport connectivity and infrastructure investment were key priorities that had to be addressed if the north was to become the Powerhouse it aspires to be.
Despite those challenges, Oglesby was optimistic for the future, using Bruntwood projects around the digital, science and technology sectors as examples of where the north and the West Midlands are starting to compete with the capital, and other major European cities.
On business growth, he was enthusiastic about the new wave of independent, smaller businesses that were emerging, explaining that the modern environment enables SMEs to work with and support bigger businesses more than ever before.
Oglesby was equally positive about the role of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, an organisation of which he is a board member.
“It does two things. It highlights the key issues that are important to us; and it lobbies government. It is a collective voice for the north, and that can only be a good thing.”
The next Downtown Manchester forum is a skills summit with Northern Powerhouse Director Henri Murison, and the leader of the Conservative group of Trafford Council Sean Anstee. Click here for further details.