Downtown in Business recently held an exclusive roundtable dinner with the leading members of NP11, Sir Roger Marsh OBE and Asif Hamed MBE, at Liverpool venue Restaurant Bar and Grill.
Downtown in Business was joined by Chair of NP11 and Chair of Leeds City Region LEP, Sir Roger Marsh OBE and Chair of Liverpool City Region LEP, Asif Hamid MBE. The discussion focused on the priorities of NP11 in working together across the eleven member regions to drive economic growth, and the importance of interconnectivity between the eleven member regions.
Sir Roger Marsh OBE initiated the discussion, stating that ‘the aim should be to present a positive, nuanced Northern narrative’. He affirmed that rather than reinforcing underperformance, ‘we should be focusing on next decade or two on moving the dial on, levelling up, dialling up in an even and fair way’ and promoting the North as ‘an economic prize that’s there for the grabbing’.
He went on to discuss some of the NP11’s principal focal points. The first, trade and investments, included a 12-point plan regarding export strategy, funding and running their own programmes in the North and ‘thinking out the box investment wise’, which Sir Roger described as looking to the global West, rather than towards Europe, Middle East and Asia. The second point encompassed Net Zero and Clean Energy. Sir Roger highlighted that ‘we should be recognising the North’s position in terms of generation, as the North generates 50% of the country’s electricity’. Thirdly, he discussed Innovation and referenced Professor Richard Jones’ ‘missing £4bn’ concept which he described as an imperative consideration in ‘making research and development a level playing field for the whole of the UK’ (with reference to the government’s £10bn investment in R&D). Placemaking was another key point of the discussion. Sir Roger spoke about the government’s levelling up agenda and mentioned the significance of ‘pride of place’, as cited by MPs such as Michael Gove. Sir Roger’s stance was that ‘the levelling up agenda should not be a prescription as such, but sort of a menu’, in that regions should be able to pick and choose parts that apply to them. Regarding pride of place, he used the example of repurposed heritage buildings and stated that ‘they should not only be a heritage site, but create a legacy’, such as the Halifax Piece Hall. Furthermore, he said that, with the recreation of Northern cities, ‘they should be contributing, rather than dependent, economies’, making the North ‘part of the solution’.
Asif Hamed MBE subsequently followed citing the importance of ‘bringing the NP11 together, but also having competition between the regions, as they all have unique character and certain expertise’. He expressed the need for further collaboration between the regions and stated that ‘the North is a stronger entity when it works together’. Additionally, Asif reiterated the aforementioned approach towards investment, stating that ‘the North is not only competing with the South, but it is competing at an international level’. He also focused on the positives of the North as a ‘hub of culture and technology’ and that there needs to be a more general consideration of ‘what the North has and what it can achieve, rather than focusing on what it is lacking’. In order to do this, he proposed that there should be more promotion of Northern business success stories. An example of this, he said, is the ‘migration of businesses from the South to the North of the country, especially throughout the pandemic, as it showed a change in the ecosystem of the economy and work life’. Furthermore, he emphasised the need for digital connectivity across the North and stated that ‘we should not only be making demands to the government, but also to telecommunications companies’.
We would like to thank our event sponsors Avison Young and the newly refurbished Restaurant Bar and Grill, Liverpool for hosting the wonderful event.
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