Opinion

The Northern Powerhouse? It's the Midlands Powerhouse that has the advantage

4 min read

27 October 2015

Has the East Midlands been overlooked for too long as a business hub? And should the government rethink its idea of a Northern Powerhouse and instead look to the East Midlands as the obvious base? The answer to these two questions is, quite simply, yes.

There’s been a lot of talk and disagreements about the Northern Powerhouse initiative and now hundreds of business leaders in the East Midlands are urging government ministers not to overlook our region.

We want David Cameron and George Osbourne to take a look at what we have to offer and to consider siting the proposed hub at a location equidistant to the north and the capital.

We believe we could take the heat out of the South East quickly, much faster than our northern counterparts.

We’ve read a lot in the news over recent weeks on the de-industrialisation of the North of England and the Redcar Steel Works closure is the latest example of that.

Read more on the Northern Powerhouse:

Productivity, at least the lack of it, is at the root of the problem and in a global market that is not going to be solved overnight.

So forget the brand ‘Powerhouse’ and look instead at the more diverse route taken by the North of England city regions that has delivered economic development. That is where the East Midlands has an advantage.

The East Midlands is incredibly diverse – we have an urban heart within the Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire triangle and the counties surrounding those three, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire and Rutland offer diversity other regions don’t have.

The proposed HS2 rail link will make travel between the north of England and London much faster and should give a boost to the whole UK economy.

But the fact the proposed route runs straight through our region is a big plus and makes it an obvious area to invest in.

The HS2 proposals include plans for a stop at Toton in Nottinghamshire, which we believe could be developed into an investment zone for business.

We could seriously maximise the opportunities from the ambitious HS2 thanks to our central location.

We should start with the East to West Midlands road links, in particular for freight/ We should even consider complete new road and rail infrastructure direct from Immingham, Grimsby and Boston to the West Midlands through both East and West Midlands Airports and Toton.

This will not only benefit the urban regions, but all the outlying rural areas as well.

An initiative to deliver a strategic partnership, ‘Connect Midlands’ looks likely to be approved and funded as a formal sub national transport body, which would set the ball rolling in improving our infrastructure in line with HS2.

Details of this particular project will be discussed by Andrew Pritchard, director of policy & infrastructure, for East Midlands Councils at the East Midlands Expo Seminar at the East Midlands Conference Centre Nottingham on Wednesday 11 November.

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Entry to the seminar, which is part of an exciting event agenda, exhibition & business show, is completely free of charge.

Pre-registration is essential to ensure a seat at this lively debate and details are on thewww.eastmidlandsexpo.co.uk website.

Martin Freeman is chairman of the East Midlands Expo