Manchester business leaders make investment plea to new government

Simon Austin's picture

Greater Manchester’s business leaders have called on the new government to continue investment in the city-region’s economic infrastructure to drive growth and prosperity.

They have also requested that there be no delay or weakening of Greater Manchester’s devolution powers.

There have been reports that Prime Minister Theresa May believes Northern Powerhouse projects are too focussed on Manchester and Liverpool.

Northern Powerhouse Minister Andrew Percy was visiting the cities on Wednesday on his first official visit to the north.

He said plans to build a Northern Powerhouse remained a key priority for the government.

The leaders, who represent over 75% of Greater Manchester’s businesses, have identified three key areas critical to local economic growth: transport, broadband and infrastructure.

Priorities include a firm commitment to HS2, the high-speed rail link between London and Manchester; investment in TransNorth to improve connection between the northern cities, including the electrification of the TransPennine line between Manchester and Leeds and the upgrading of the M62 to four lanes of smart motorway.

They are also seeking a commitment to the government’s target of 95% of UK premises being covered by superfast broadband by 2017.

Greater Manchester is leading the way with devolution and already has control over health and social care, criminal justice and planning powers.

The business leaders have called for devolution to continue transferring powers and responsibilities to Greater Manchester.

In a joint statement, Greater Manchester Business Leaders said:

“Driving growth across the UK regions is critical for economic growth.

“Greater Manchester’s businesses help generate £56billion for the economy every year, but our city still requires more in public spending than we are able to generate in taxes.

“The private sector can help close this gap by driving growth and productivity but to do this we need continuing investment in transport, broadband and infrastructure.

“We also need the new government to deliver on their clear statement of support committing themselves to devolution.

“As business leaders we firmly believe that decisions made locally can better meet the needs and aspirations of the people who live and work in the area.

“As such we look forward to the election of the first Greater Manchester mayor in May next year, who will be able to drive this agenda forward.”