Lord Jim O’Neill, economist and former Government commercial secretary, and John Cridland, chairman of Transport for the North, have both joined the board of George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse Partnership.
The Partnership is an independent body established by the former Chancellor of the Exchequer and MP for Tatton earlier this year, to “represent the voice of business and civic leaders across the North”.
O’Neill stepped down in September as Commercial Secretary to the Treasury with responsibility for the Northern Powerhouse, a role given to him by Osborne in 2015.
Prior to his work for the Government, he led on the creation of the RSA City Growth Commission report ‘Unleashing Metro Growth’, which has been influential in shaping the Northern Powerhouse concept.
Cridland was formerly chairman of the CBI and is now chairman of Transport for the North, a partnership between the Northern city region authorities, Government and national transport agencies, tasked with improving connectivity across the North.
They join several senior business and civic leaders from across the North already on the board, with the group meeting for the first time today in Sheffield.
Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool, and Julie Dore, leader of Sheffield City Council all sit on the board and the businesses represented include Manchester Airports Group, Mace, Barclays, Associated British Ports, Siemens, HSBC, EY, Addleshaw Goddard, Bruntwood and Arcadis.
Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse Partnership is an independent organisation, and entirely separate to the Northern Powerhouse partnership programme being pushed by the Government over the past month. More than 30 Northern organisations, including universities, PR agencies, infrastructure specialists, and banks have been signed up to the Government scheme.
In October, Osborne began a series of roundtable ‘evidence gathering’ events with a meeting in Manchester and next week the second of these will occur in Newcastle. The roundtables have the goal of “developing consensus amongst prominent business and public sector organisations on the issues and priorities that will enable the NPP to drive transformational change throughout the Northern economy”.
O’Neill said: “Having been involved in its inception, I have always been a huge supporter of the Northern Powerhouse and through my participation in the Northern Powerhouse Partnership I look forward to continuing to play a role in ensuring that the original vision becomes a reality.
“Ultimately, the success of the Northern Powerhouse will depend upon business and civic leaders across the North driving it forward, and the creation of the NPP is a perfect vehicle for helping to tackle head-on some of the issues that have been holding back the Northern economy for centuries.”