Brexit should make us even more determined to focus on Northern Powerhouse, says Bilfinger GVA director

Posted by Sam Hughes Jun 29, 2016 11:29:04 AM

Topics: News,

GVA_Nicola_Head shot 2Now more than ever is the time to function as a Northern Powerhouse.

That’s the view of Nicola Rigby, director in the planning, development and regeneration team at leading commercial property advisor, Bilfinger GVA.

Following Brexit and Prime Minster David Cameron’s resignation, she has called on the north to take full ownership of the Northern Powerhouse.

“If we believed in Northern Powerhouse last month, we still believe in it today,” said Nicola, who is based in Bilfinger GVA’s Manchester office.

“And that’s both in terms of the opportunity that the north presents to investors as a genuine alternative to London and the south east, and the need to diversify our economy and rebalance productivity to ensure our long-term stability and growth.”

It comes after Bilfinger GVA released the ‘Northern Powerhouse: Realising its full potential’ report earlier this month, and before the EU Referendum.

Report findings included ‘a need to deliver in the short term to ensure momentum’ – contributing to the longer term success of the Northern Powerhouse initiative, strongly championed by outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne.

Nicola said togetherness will ensure the Northern Powerhouse prospers, particularly after the UK voted to ‘Leave’ the EU.

She said: “The positioning of the Northern Powerhouse has come a long way in the last 12 months, and whilst it has been championed as a ‘Cameron/Osborne’ initiative, it is ‘owned’ by the north.

“The collective therefore need to come together and continue to lobby central government for the same level of investment, support and devolution that we have always sought.

“It is important to remember that the commitments made around devolution deals are long-term – for example the 30-year business rate retention commitment, and still hold true. In essence therefore, now is the time more than ever to function as a Northern Powerhouse.”

Reflecting on Brexit, Nicola said the geography of the vote was interesting in the context of the Northern Powerhouse.

“Generally speaking outside of London, it was predominantly the metropolitan centres that voted to remain, bar Sheffield in the Northern Powerhouse core city context,” she said.

“This would echo concerns raised by some in the general debates around the Northern Powerhouse – that it is about the core cities but does not translate or is not well understood in the wider suburban and rural context. This highlights the need to ensure that the Northern Powerhouse strategy is inclusive of and relates to more than just the core cities.”

She added: “This is not to say that the areas outside of the core cities are not in support of growing the northern economy, rather that there is potentially a disconnect currently around the opportunity that the Northern Powerhouse affords the whole of the region. There is still therefore a hearts and minds exercise needed across the whole of the north – not just the core cities.”