‘Council of the North’ moves a step closer

Mayors and leaders from Liverpool City Region, Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority have discussed further the formation of a body that will provide a strong, unified voice for the north.

A meeting was held yesterday to follow up on August’s transport summit, which saw the civic figureheads call on government to honour its commitments to improving pan-Northern transport infrastructure.

The meeting confirmed support for the work being done by Transport for the North in this area, and saw plans for a Council of the North move forward, with the likelihood being that a first meeting would be held in Newcastle during the Great Exhibition of the North, an event being held jointly by Newcastle and Gateshead between June and September next year.

Along with investment in infrastructure, the other key issue for the leaders, they said, is ensuring that the northern cities get a seat at the table on Brexit negotiations.

Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “If the North is to get the investment it has been promised, and fulfil its vast potential, we must come together, work together, and speak with one voice.

“Today’s meeting was an important step towards achieving that. The North of England is getting organised and can no longer be ignored.”

Liverpool City Region metro mayor Steve Rotheram added: “This was another really positive gathering and strengthened the growing sense that we need to work more collaboratively to ensure the interests of our regions are forcefully presented within national political debate.

“The UK is simply too Londoncentric and we need to be inventive and determined if we are going to off-set its disproportionate influence and share of national resource.

“Bringing political, business and civic leaders together to help explore how best we can achieve this is an important, and probably overdue contribution, to the task of rebalancing both our politics and our economy.”

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