We need ‘one voice’, a plan with a strong vision that builds on the Humber’s strengths outlining our proposition in the north and a ‘list of asks’ to help make it happen was the resounding message from the Humber Northern Powerhouse Business Summit.
The message was consistently emphasised by our speakers, panellists or representatives from business, local authorities and education providers who attended the event – through live questions as well as comments on Twitter – a common thread and narrative ran throughout.
More than 315 attended the event which saw a lively debate on the Humber’s role in the Northern Powerhouse including transport and infrastructure as well as investment and trade and the Humber as a place.
There were more than, 858 tweets with the hashtag #HumberSummit across three weeks before during and after Business Week 2016, which was trending on the day of the event at 7th in the same list as #Euro16 and #Queenat90.
Messages from our speakers clearly resonated with the audience members with key sound bites making their way on to Twitter and Sli.do alongside questions used by facilitator Declan Curry to draw responses from our panel members. See our on the day coverage and social media response via Storify.
All agreed that the Humber had key strengths built on the industries around the estuary, particularly the ports and logistics and energy sectors.
Ed Cox, director of IPPR North, the only northern based think tank, championed the Humber as an economic area and made the case for the Northern Powerhouse with his parting shot saying the “Humber should be leading not pleading” on the role we play in the Northern Powerhouse.
Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said that there was “the chance to redress the country’s balance away from London” and that the Humber must unite in a plan to be part of the Northern Powerhouse and be clear about “its asks” and they could be “more than just funding – freedoms too”.
In a passionate address Lord Prescott asked those in the region to “pull together for an ambitious and strong vision for the Humber” and asked us to “look at the bigger picture, look at the region, look at the wealth that can be created… We have it all as long as we can get our acts together.”
Leading in on the discussion on transport and infrastructure John Cridland CBE, Chair of Transport for the North, told of the challenges being faced, but said it was an historic moment with a devolved decision-making body being brought forward with £150m investment in Northern smart travel by 2020, with a 45 minute target journey time from Hull to Leeds.
He said: “I think we stand a really good chance of making something happen. We have fantastic ports and logistics that could do phenomenal things if the connectivity east to west was so much better.”
While leading in on the discussions on investment, trade and creating wealth Juergen Maier, Chief Executive of Siemens UK, championed the creation of a strong economic vision including a “distinctive narrative and USPs for the region” which include Energy, Digital, Ports and Logistics and how the Humber’s opportunities in these areas can work within the Northern Powerhouse.
Through our survey, which saw 69 pc of attendees surveyed saying the quality of the debate and speakers at the Summit was excellent and a further 29 per cent saying it was good, delegates have told us what they want to see next at the event with the common themes being:
“Leadership on one voice in the Humber led by business supported by the Humber LEP”
“Further progress on unification of the Northern Powerhouse”
“Work more widely with other representatives in the Northern Powerhouse”
“Carve out a distinctive role for the Humber”
“Be clear on how business and employees can be kept informed and have realistic input.
“Key actions and a plan quickly with everyone knowing their role”
“Driving the Humber forward to meet new challenges and position itself as Gateway to and from the Northern Powerhouse.”
The LEP Board, made up of leaders from business, local authorities and education, will now discuss the way forward at its next meeting on 8 July.
Lord Haskins, Chair of the Humber LEP, said:
“The quality of speakers and debate made this one of the most significant event in the Humber to drive future growth. I would like to thank partners, speakers and attendees for being part of the lively debate.
“There was a clear call from businesses and partners to work together finding one voice, with a clear vision and plan for the Humber as part of the Northern Powerhouse from which we can develop a list of asks.
“There is no doubt now that we face unprecedented uncertainty in the wake of the EU referendum, however, we must not freeze during this time as we will have to work even harder to define our role and what we need to make it happen. What we do next is still crucial, and we will work with partners to provide clear leadership that to can see what we can now do to make sure the Humber is playing a key role in the Northern Powerhouse.”
The event which was organised by the Humber LEP, sponsored by Andrew Jackson solicitors and supported by HumberBusiness.com and Bondholders, was part of a successful Humber Business Week 2016.