Northern leaders and Secretary of State, Michael Gove, to discuss next stage of North’s Levelling Up in Liverpool

21st January 2022

Political and business leaders from across the North will meet in the Liverpool City Region next month to discuss the next step in the North’s levelling up.

They will be joined by business, public sector and community representatives from across the North and Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP.

With the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper highly anticipated, they will discuss how the North can work together and with Government to make sure levelling up maximises the North’s potential to grow an inclusive, productive, sustainable economy that works for everyone, while also driving the UK’s transition to Net Zero and tackling health inequalities through innovation.

The Convention of the North with NP11 will take place at eco-building The Spine in Liverpool’s Knowledge Quarter – recently named the UK’s healthiest building – on Tuesday 8 February.

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:
“Next month’s Convention of the North will be a unique opportunity for community, business and political leaders to come together to make sense of what exactly ‘levelling up’ is, and work out an action plan to help make it a reality.

“Levelling up has to be about more than just big spending announcements and shiny infrastructure projects. To mean anything, levelling up has tackle long-standing structural inequalities that exist between North and South. From healthcare and job prospects, to transport and infrastructure spending people’s lives can be radically different based on where they happen to be born. This is not an issue of party politics but one of fairness and social justice.

“It is fantastic to welcome leaders from across the country to the Liverpool City Region but let me be clear: this is not designed to be a talking shop. I want this to deliver concrete plans for improving the lives of the nearly 16m people who call the North home. The success of the UK, not only in the present but for generations to come is dependent on a strong North. This is our chance to make it happen.”

Sir Roger Marsh OBE DL, Chair of the NP11 group of 11 northern local enterprise partnerships, said:
“The Convention of the North with NP11 in 2019 was hugely important because it was the first commitment to work across partners to realise the North’s full potential. With the UK at a critical moment, we hope this event will build on its successes and I look forward to a productive, challenging, inspiring and open conversation that will help us collectively turn potential into delivery.

“The two-plus years since the last Convention have seen unprecedented change across the North and globally. Despite the challenges we face, there are also many causes for optimism. The North has the skills, drive and innovation to benefit the whole UK by leading the fourth industrial revolution, focusing on green jobs and health innovation. As well as levelling up our powerhouse northern region, this will deliver on the Government’s vision for a competitive Global Britain.

Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council and Chair of Convention of the North, said:
“The Convention of the North will be a great opportunity to bring civic, business, and cultural leaders from the North together to work with Government to better understand how Levelling Up will ensure that the economic and social potential of the North is unlocked.

“The forthcoming Levelling Up White Paper could be a landmark occasion for the millions of people who call the North home. It is an opportunity for Government to break down barriers and make sure our region is equipped to play a leading role in developing skills, modernising infrastructure, building and growing a sustainable and green economy and achieving our Net Zero ambitions.

“Our cities, towns, and villages have so much to offer, but it is by only working together, in collaboration with Government, that we will ensure we are all getting the most from Levelling Up and provide lasting and meaningful change for the North that provides opportunities for everyone, regardless of where they live. We need to jointly reset the relationship and make a commitment to change.”

As well as bringing together northern political leaders, business, and Government to agree actions on how best to level up the North, the Convention will provide a platform for young people, community representatives and leading thinkers to discuss how levelling up can best deliver for the North.

The event will comprise high-impact plenary sessions, alongside focused discussions on those areas that will make the biggest difference to the North’s future – the “Five Gamechangers for the North”, as set out in a report published by the Convention of the North and NP11 in October 2021.

The gamechangers are those areas where collaboration across the North and with Government can grow an inclusive economy that delivers for the North and the country, while also tackling the health inequalities that have been laid bare by COVID-19:

  1. Leading the Green Industrial Revolution
  2. Closing the healthy life expectancy gap between the North and South through innovation
  3. Closing the education and skills gap
  4. Improving connectivity in towns and cities in the North
  5. Increasing private and public investment in R&D spending in the North

Hosted by council leaders, metro mayors and the North’s 11 LEP Chairs, the Convention will be held at The Spine, Paddington Village – Liverpool’s first Grade-A office building for more than a decade. Designed according to the scientific and medical research principles established in the international WELL Building Standard , the building is on track to be one of the healthiest workspaces for mental health and physical wellbeing in the UK. It is a clear example of the North’s commitment to health innovation, as well as its ability to lead the way on Net Zero.

The event has been organised by the NP11, Culture Liverpool, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority on behalf of the Convention for the North.

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