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Brian Hay
David Pollock
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Charlie Mullins
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Julie Meyer
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Jeremy Roberts
Jennie Johnson

Hit The North

Initiative battles for influence
The Northern Way initiative will not wither on the vine as the result of its most high profile sponsor’s removal from public office, according to its chairman, Neville Chamberlain.
The three-year, £100 million initiative was set up in September 2004 during the death throes of the regional assembly project by the Deputy PM John Prescott. The aim, as stated at the launch, is to close the £30bn productivity gap caused by the underperformance of the three northern regions.
However, Chamberlain insists that Prescott’s removal from the renamed Department for Culture and Local Government will not lead to the project being abandoned or buried, and he insists that it retains strong levels of Government support.
“I’ve had several discussions with the key ministers involved – particularly Ruth Kelly,” he said at the launch of the initiative’s first annual report. “They are still very, very strongly supportive of the Northern Way and what it can do.”
To date, it has spent £9.9 million nof the £100 million allocated to it on projects such as the establishment of a new £5 million Leadership Academy at Lancaster University, in marketing the north of England as a destination to inward investors overseas and in publishing a report identifying opportunities for the North’s ports.
It has also dramatically reduced its initial list of priorities and will instead use the remaining £90 million of its budget in three areas: providing the necessary evidence to shape government policy; funding collaborative projects between the three regions (such as the development of three Science City complexes and the Leadership academies); and to influence national policies through a series of targeted pilots throughout the North, such as a campaign to get more people off incapacity benefits or to start their own businesses.
Chamberlain says that the secretariat plans to push home the case for the north of England, which he described as the UK’s “hidden asset”, during the Comprehensive Spending Review.
“We believe it gives us the chance to influence Government policy – not to go with a begging bowl and ask for more money, but to ensure that the North’s requirements are embedded in every Government department’s future programme.”

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