Au­tumn State­ment was good news for north ‘pow­er­house’

Stockport Times West - - BUSINESS - CHRISTIAN SPENCE Head of Business In­tel­li­gence at Greater Manch­ester Cham­ber of Com­merce

IN the first minute of his Au­tumn State­ment the Chan­cel­lor men­tioned the north­ern pow­er­house and his com­mit­ment to strength­en­ing our re­gions.

The es­tab­lish­ment of a north­ern sov­er­eign wealth fund funded by the pro­ceeds of shale gas ex­trac­tion has the po­ten­tial to pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant funds for in­vest­ment, but only if gov­ern­ment moves to support the es­tab­lish­ment and growth of this in­dus­try.

It still has many ar­gu­ments to win over the pub­lic and business in this space but, if this fund is to be suc­cess­ful, the Chan­cel­lor must do much more to calm con­cerns over this new form of en­ergy and al­low po­ten­tial com­pa­nies to be­gin ex­trac­tion.

Ear­lier in the week we saw the an­nounce­ment of the £15bn in­vest­ment in the strate­gic road net­work where the M60 and M62 will see sub­stan­tial in­vest­ment, as well as greater ac­cess to the new su­per­port at Liver­pool.

Com­muters and business peo­ple across the re­gion will be de­lighted to hear that the next fran­chises for North­ern and Tran­sPen­nine Ex­press will in­clude pro­vi­sion for mod­ern rolling stock to re­place the out­dated and un­pop­u­lar Pacer trains.

If the Gov­ern­ment’s north­ern pow­er­house is ever to be suc­cess­ful, the speed and qual­ity of pub­lic trans­port across the north must be rad­i­cally im­proved, so we wel­come the an­nounce­ment of a com­pre­hen­sive trans­port strat­egy for the north, work­ing with Trans­port for the North, to in­clude op­tions, costs and a de­liv­ery timetable for HS3, and its in­terim re­port in the next four months.

Greater Manch­ester ben­e­fits di­rectly from two other key an­nounce­ments. The £235m in­vest­ment in to the Sir Henry Royce In­sti­tute of Ad­vanced Ma­te­ri­als, to be head­quar­tered in Manch­ester, builds on the ex­ist­ing suc­cess of our univer­si­ties in this space.

An ad­di­tional £113m will also be in­vested in an al­go­rith­mic and big data re­search fa­cil­ity in Dares­bury.

Fi­nally, gov­ern­ment has agreed to £78m to­wards the fund­ing of a new the­atre and per­for­mance space in Manch­ester on the site of the old Granada stu­dios, fur­ther re­in­forc­ing Greater Manch­ester’s lead­ing po­si­tion, not just in fi­nan­cial, cre­ative and man­u­fac­tur­ing busi­nesses but as an arts and cul­tural hub.

Over­all, this was a pos­i­tive state­ment from the Chan­cel­lor, but our fu­ture growth prospects will rely on see­ing less timid­ity from gov­ern­ment on in­vest­ment support.

We will as­sess the de­tail of the au­tumn state­ment over the com­ing days and will, over the com­ing years, en­sure that we hold gov­ern­ment to ac­count on be­half of our mem­bers on the de­liv­ery of its prom­ises.

Christian Spence

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