The 27th May saw the Queen give her speech at the beginning of this year’s new parliament. It came in a 26 bill package covering the likes of housing, a possible EU referendum, immigration, psychoactive substances, and so on. A definite key priority however was the Devolution Bill, which came in line with Chancellor George Osborne’s vision of finally creating a Northern Powerhouse.
The Queen announced that the devolution of powers to regional cities is set to help bring all parts of the country back together and rebalance the British economy, with Greater Manchester functioning as a blueprint for other cities to follow. Here the regional councils will work together under the lead of one mayor, after their election in 2017.
Cities like Manchester, that choose to devolve, will receive greater powers over housing, transport, planning and policing, which in return is said to not only boost economic growth, but also to increase local productivity and efficiency. According to Osborne, the Northern Powerhouse aims at closing the gap between the north and south of the country, bringing an expected £18billion to the region by 2030.
As of recently, West Midlands’ Birmingham and its six neighbouring councils Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton also officially announced their plans of joining forces and creating what the Financial Times titled as the latest English “super council”.
The North West in general is currently going through what is a very positive chapter: In addition to regional governments increasingly opting to cooperate together in order to acquire more power over local matters, the nation’s Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin publicly declared that the £50billion HS2 high-speed rail scheme received the go-ahead, with construction beginning in as little as two years’ time.
McLoughlin argued that the new high-speed rail links, which are going to run from north to south, will “slash journey times, provide a substantial boost to capacity and help bind the north together as a single powerful economic force”. Patrick McLoughlin is one of many who firmly believe that the power of transport is able to really change things for the better.
One thing is for certain – the future of the North West has never looked brighter. Political and economic focus leads to the region becoming one of the busiest, most innovative spots in the country, which most definitely attracts a lot of national and foreign investors to take a second look at the UK’s Northern Powerhouse.
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