01 Mar, 2018

Northern Powerhouse minister says ‘Manchester is fizzing with excitement’

2018 03 01 NP fizzing main

That was the message from Jake Berry, Northern Powerhouse minister as he visited Manchester Airport to launch a campaign to boost the region’s global appeal

Manchester is ‘fizzing with excitement’ – and people are more optimistic than ever.

That was the message from Jake Berry, Northern Powerhouse minister as he visited Manchester Airport to launch a campaign to boost the region’s global appeal.

Funded by the hub, the £5m poster and social media scheme will highlight Greater Manchester’s strengths to the rest of the world – particularly China.

It’s now nearly three years since former George Osborne launched the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ plan at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Its goal was to redress the north-south economic imbalance and attract investment into northern cities and towns.

The new Greater Manchester mayoralty was key to the project, and Thursday’s launch at Terminal Two – a scheme to showcase the region’s people, businesses and attractions – was branded ‘a new frontier for the Northern Powerhouse’.

But to get future visitors from the ‘global gateway’ that is Manchester Airport and out into the north of England, a fit-for-purpose transport system will be key.

Transport for the North – a body of northern leaders – has now drafted a plan to improve road and rail, but it will rely on government funding.

And with many rail projects – Piccadilly station’s expansion, the transPennine and Manchester-Preston electrifications – already facing delays, there are doubts over future schemes.

Mr Berry, however, insisted you could ‘see improvements happening on the ground today by driving around the north of England’.

Namechecking the Ordsall Chord and the smart motorway projects on the M6 and M60, he said they proved the Northern Powerhouse was making a ‘real difference’.

He added: “I can see why people get frustrated that transport projects take a long time to deliver but between now and 2021 we are spending £13bn on transport across the north.

“But this government is absolutely committed to investing in transport in the north of England. Walk around Manchester and see the improvements to the railways, the roads, the tram expansion – see the real improvement on the ground.

“Do we need a longer term plan with government money and commitment to tackle the long-term transport problem we have? Absolutely yes, and my job as the northern powerhouse minister is to make sure in government I can be that voice making sure we deliver in the north.”

He added: “But let’s not run away from the fact the problem we have with transport infrastructure in the north is a long-term problem. I’ve lived in this region all my life and I know they are nothing new. That’s why we’ve set up Transport for the North so we can catch up with te infrastructure we see in the south of England.”

Mr Berry said the government and Mr Burnham were taking ‘positive steps’ to tackle rough sleeping, which has risen by 40 per cent in the last year.

He said the government was making sure local authorities have the ‘power and money’ to deal with chid poverty.

He added: “Even though Mr Burnham is not the same political party as me I think he’s doing a great job for the city.

“For anyone that goes into Manchester for leisure and work, the city is fizzing with excitement. I’ve lived in the north of England my entire life – I cannot remember a perid where there has been such optimism over what we are doing here.”

He also insisted the Northern Powerhouse Conference, which had been due to be held at Manchester Central in February – will go ahead in the summer.

He described Manchester Airport as the ‘global face of the Northern Powerhouse’, adding: “It’s about making sure people know when they arrive here that they have arrived in Northern Powerhouse – the great things we have to offer including culture, tourism and businesses as well.”

ndrew Cowan, CEO of Manchester Airport, said road and rail links were ‘fundamental’, adding: “It’s important we present a united front as the north and we continue to demonstrate the benefits of investing here in the north are and I think it’s really important we talk about rebalancing the economy.”

Mr Berry’s assurances come after IPPR, a left-leaning think tank, released a new report revealing each Londonder receives nearly three times more than someone living in Greater Mamchester when it comes to transport investment.

With London to receive £4,155 per person, compared to £,16,00 in the north, they claim there’s a £2,555 gap that amounts to 2.6 times less.

The Department for Transport have dismissed the figures as ‘misleading’ because they goes beyond 2021 and therefore do not include those projects not yet timetabled.

They claim their analysis shows spending per person in the north will be £1,039 as opposed to £1,029 in the south.

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