Northern Powerhouse Panel will look at whole of region’s needs

PLANNING:  Lord Heseltine and Edwin Booth, chairman of the Lancashire Enterprise partnership, look at City Deal work in Preston and South Ribble
PLANNING: Lord Heseltine and Edwin Booth, chairman of the Lancashire Enterprise partnership, look at City Deal work in Preston and South Ribble
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Business chiefs in Lancashire have welcomed a move by the Institution of Civil Engineers to set up a Northern Powerhouse Panel.

The panel will help to form infrastructure policy across the North of England – and not just core cities like Manchester and Liverpool.

ICE is right to focus on the north as a whole and not just on the core cities

Hugh Evans

The panel, a group of leading infrastructure and policy experts, has held its first meeting at professional services company KPMG’s offices in Leeds.

Hugh Evans, deputy chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “ICE is right to focus on the north as a whole and not just on the core cities.

“We’re particularly keen to see greater engagement from our smaller cities, towns and rural areas.”

But he added: “However, until the Northern Powerhouse as a concept is firmed up with a clear structure, delivery mechanism, timetable, and budget it’ll remain a brand in search of a product”.

At the meeting, the panel members set out their key objectives, designed to get the best infrastructure solutions from the Northern Powerhouse.

It aims to ensure the Northern Powerhouse is more than Manchester and considers the North in its entirety.

It hopes to shape the implementation of the initiative, drawing upon local expertise and experience.

Darrell Matthews, regional director for ICE in the North West added: “ICE has involved experts from all parts of the North of England, to ensure there is a balanced view of priorities, and that we add to the debate from a position of knowledge and experience.”

Chair of the panel, Richard Threlfall, head of infrastructure at KPMG, said: “The ICE can draw on the vast expertise of its membership to inform the development of infrastructure priorities under the Northern Powerhouse initiative, and to ensure that its benefits are felt throughout the North.”

Penny Marshall, regional director of ICE in Yorkshire and the Humber and the North East, added: “Forming the Northern Powerhouse Panel gives the ICE the opportunity to make practical and positive contributions to the future of infrastructure”