Manchester City Council leader Bev Craig speaks at UKREiiF. Credit: PNW

Greater Manchester leaders sceptical of levelling up

“It’s up to government to ensure their rhetoric is turned into reality,” said Manchester City Council leader Bev Craig at UKREiiF, which also saw discussions and debates on public-private partnerships.

Craig’s remarks came on a levelling up panel on the first day of the three-day conference, held at the Royal Armouries in Leeds. Several thousand property professionals were registered to attend the event, which boasted a speaker lineup of local authority figures from across the North West.

While she seemed sceptical of the delivery of levelling up promises to spread economic prosperity throughout the regions of the UK, she did say she was willing to work with government of “any colour” to improve Manchester.

Her sentiments were echoed by fellow panellists Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees and Belfast chief executive John Walsh.

The city leaders agreed that levelling up would have to address the skills shortage and focus on lifting up the impoverished within the communities.

“If levelling up is going to mean something to anybody it needs to reach everybody,” said Walsh.

Rees stated that that meant a rethink of how, exactly, one levels up an area. It’s an opportunity to rethink who is a ‘wealth creator,’ or someone who creates community value, he said. That goes beyond businessmen and bankers, and into those in the public health sector. Investing in the community, Rees argued, was actually economic investment.

“This is not just social justice, but economic importance,” he said.

Craig added that giving money to local authorities and letting them sort where best to invest it would help turn levelling up into a reality. She noted that Manchester has one of the fastest-growing economies, but not the autonomy to fully control its infrastructure.

“We are able to deliver ‘in spite of’ not ‘because of’ [the government]” Craig said.

Later at the conference, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham weighed in on levelling up on a panel of his own.

Connectivity would lead the way to improving regional inequity, according to Burnham.

Having good jobs is great, but “you’ve got to give people from all part of GM a chance for that employment,” he said.

“Transport is crucial.”

Once that is sorted, and GM achieves a London-style transport system, Burnham argued the city region’s regeneration efforts would go up a notch.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham spoke about the role transport infrastructure could play in levelling up. Credit: PNW

Public-Private Partnerships

That boost in regeneration would also be fueled by public-private partnerships, with Burnham encouraging any company interested in joining the Manchester vision of creating communities to get in touch.

He emphasised the region’s potential for net zero and its commitment to reach that goal by 2038, saying that the region could be a “living lab” for sustainability and provide a template for other communities on how to achieve those goals.

He encouraged companies to get in touch, saying: “We are big enough to matter, but not big enough to be difficult to work with”.

Craig also praised public-private partnerships. She said that trusted partners who buy into a shared vision and “have skin in the game”, can result in meaningful development like what the city is hoping to accomplish with ID Manchester and Victoria North.

Partnerships have also been key in Salford, as Salford chief executive Tom Stannard told a crowd. He discussed how working with English Cities Fund and Peel on Chapel Street and MediaCity, respectively, had changed the city.

He hoped to continue that work with new MediaCity partners Landsec.

“They are emphatically at the table,” Stannard said of the private investor. “They are looking to take strategic risk in being a part of place-shaping”.

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The Queen opened Crossrail today. HS2 to Leeds was cancelled,London now has yet another train set .Boris was there going on about how amazing London is. I am afraid they don’t care about us ,and they won’t give more powers to Burnham, because they have seen what too much power in Scotland has achieved, less control for the Southern establishment. The last thing they need is another Sturgeon in Greater Manchester. This is as good as it gets. Twenty years for HS2 to reach Piccadilly, yellow buses to match the trams, eventually,and a few public sector jobs, which are farmed out to cheaper areas, where nobody wants to move to. We can’t do it ourselves because they have the final word, and they won’t give us the tools we need it appears .

By Elephant

Levelling Up, but Manchester is already outstripping everywhere else in the North, they need to look behind them and see how others are struggling to get HS2 and other government favours.

By Anonymous

Don’t blame Johnson for looking after his people in London but blame all those North Labour and Conservative MP who refuse to vote as a block to force additional funding for the people they represent.The North West is full of marginal seats but also MP who more interested in their property and life in London and not the people they supposed to be representing.

By Betty Roberts

Some sympathy with Elephant here when you hear a single Crossrail station under Paddington is big enough to contain the Shard, it’s makes you thoughtful about how hard it is to get an underground rail station at Piccadilly. I think we just need to realise there’s only one thing that’s going to raise up this part of the world, and it’s the thing we see in the mirror every morning, no one’s coming the rescue, no one’s writing big cheques, we have to patiently create as many businesses, networks, culture, and housing as we can.

By Rich X

@Betty.
Errr Boris Johnson isn’t mayor anymore he’s the PM – the whole of the UK are his people!

By Anonymous

Boris Johnson represent a south east seat and has spent his entire life in the Home Counties bubble.Tbry are who he cares about and certainly not people in north where he has zero connection with apart from spouting some nonsense about leveling up to get votes and for which he has done nothing in reality.Boris Johnson cares more about Ukraine than he does about anything north of Watford.

By Jack Jones

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