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Northern Powerhouse boss talks Devolution, HS2 and collaboration

Henri Murison, Chief Executive of The Northern Powerhouse Partnership, discussed a comprehensive overview of the current trends and issues affecting the Cheshire region.

On Thursday 27th June 2024, Downtown in Business hosted their latest event ‘Cheshire and the Northern Powerhouse’, at the fabulous Opera Bar and Grill in Chester.

The event featured Henri Murison, Chief Executive of The Northern Powerhouse Partnership, and brought together a diverse group of business leaders and forward-thinkers from both the public and private sectors from across Chester and the wider Cheshire region.

Drawing on his extensive experience with the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, Henri Murison delivered a powerful address, providing a comprehensive overview of the current trends and issues affecting the Cheshire region, focusing on opportunities for driving economic growth through regeneration, people, and collaboration.

Henri explained how originally it was broadly the big 5 Northern Cities who dominated the growth agenda, but how in recent years, by promoting connectivity through transport, we are creating a labour market and making it possible for people to live in smaller towns and commute to their place of work.

“Levelling up by simply giving money to small towns doesn’t work, we need to make it easier for people to access nearby cities.”

Henri also pointed out that Chester and Cheshire at large, despite being thriving areas, were not doing as well as they should be, and that the upcoming election and a possible new government was an opportunity to bring attention back to the area and get the devolution deal they deserve.

“There will be a moment in time, when there will be an interest in Warrington, Chester and the wider Cheshire area, don’t waste the opportunity! Chester should go in saying, we’re in between Liverpool and Manchester, and we’re more productive, we should have a devolution deal!”

“There has to be something done about the fact that there are too many people, goods and services trying to move around the North West and Midlands to do nothing, so we have to do something”.

A key highlight of Henri’s comments was his emphasis on the importance of collaboration between public and private sectors to harness the full potential of the North. He explained how the Northern Powerhouse Partnership is working with both the public and private sector to try and reboot projects such as HS2 and ensure everyone working together to promote growth in the North.

He underscored the need for strategic partnerships and innovative approaches to address the challenges and opportunities facing Chester and the broader North West region.

His insights on investing in infrastructure as well as the importance of investing in education and skills development to help the poorest children and young people achieve better career outcomes, resonated deeply with the audience, highlighting the critical role these factors play in the region’s future prosperity.

“Too many young people don’t have a job or don’t have the skills to get a job.”

When questioned on his thoughts on the upcoming election, Henri explained that he feels one of the key issues is that “We went from a period of time where we had a consensus on things like HS2 and devolution, what’s happened is we’ve had a government that’s given up on their end, letting central government just get on and do something often doesn’t work”.

Henri believes that devolution can help ensure long term growth for areas since local authorities and Mayors are less likely to change their minds and go back on longer term projects than central government.

“Devolution promotes consistency – mayors don’t change their minds as much, the problem is we have a government that keeps doing something then stopping or changing their mind. There are not impossible problems to solve they’re just problems that takes time to fix.”

When asked what he would do if he was in charge of Cheshire, Henri explained that he would try to better showcase the investment opportunities in the city and think more about what the environment in Cheshire is like for people trying to start a business, and what could be done to help them.

Frank McKenna commented: “Hopefully everyone left today with a much deeper understanding of the potential strategies needed from the new government to support economic growth and where their business or organisation might fit into the bigger picture, I think this event definitely renewed all our commitments to working together to achieve our shared goals and contribute to Cheshire’s bright economic future.”

For more information about future events, please contact Alice Evans at

Downtown in Business