Commenting on today’s IPPR summit in Leeds at which Lord Heseltine spoke and in which the next steps for a Great North Plan were discussed, Judith Barnes, local government partner at law firm Bevan Brittan said:

“Today’s event has energised business leaders in the North and really cemented support for a ‘Great North Plan’.  Now that needs to be turned into a reality and the plans and strategies will hopefully begin to properly take shape in the coming months to complement the Transport Plan for the North.

“For the North to truly thrive, collaboration will be vital across key services and between both the public and private sectors.  International experience shows that you need to link up services such as housing, transport and land use behind strong community leadership.  Lord Heseltine believes that will be through elected City and Regional Mayors.  We need to find ways to integrate, share and link up efforts across the region.

“As Lord Heseltine underlined, the Government’s commitment to devolution has created a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Devolution presents the opportunity for the North to take far greater control of its own future.  Combined Authority mayors will be a democratically elected, powerful voice for the North.  It’s got to be hoped that West and North Yorkshire can join Sheffield, Manchester and the North East to agree its own devolution deal.

“Areas need to look for opportunities for investment, whether in Research and Development, the digital agenda, renewables, manufacturing or assets, that will help northern economies thrive, help local populations to realise their potential and help the public sector to become more financially self-sufficient.

“The time is right for a coherent and compelling Great North Plan to be drawn up that will enable the Northern region to realise all of its massive potential for growth collaboratively.”