Keeping the Northern Powerhouse buzzing
5th February, 2016
By Paul Johnson, Executive Partner, Ward Hadaway Manchester
IN THE early 1990s around the time of the ‘Madchester’ music and fashion scene, it was often said that the city and its surroundings were “buzzing”.
Fast-forward 25 years and that same description seems a fitting one for the Greater Manchester of today.
While baggy jeans and brightly coloured tops are no longer de rigeur, there is a real sense of excitement, optimism and enthusiasm in the area.
Exactly how much of this can be attributed to the Northern Powerhouse concept and its promotion by the Government is up for debate, but there is no denying that the area and its economy are on the up.
The list of good news stories seems to grow every week – Manchester’s office market is bigger than that of the other major Northern cities combined and the city needs an extra 3 m sq ft of space to keep up with demand; Manchester will be the fastest growing city outside the South of England over the next three years; Manchester Airport, whose MD Ken O’Toole will be the guest speaker at the Ward Hadaway Greater Manchester Fastest 50 Awards in March, is opening up direct flights to China for the first time and investing £1bn in expanding the airport.
We are certainly feeling the effects at Ward Hadaway with fee income generated by our Manchester office jumping by 28.5% in the year to the end of April 2015 as we continue to grow.
Add this to the most wide-ranging and comprehensive devolution deal ever agreed in England and you have the makings of a real live Northern Powerhouse.
However, the Government still needs to convince its detractors that it is really committed to closing the North’s economic gap with the South.
For example, things like the ‘pausing’ of plans for the electrification of the Transpennine line last year, the December floods in Cumbria and the relative lack of funding for better flood protection schemes give ammunition to the sceptics. The recent Ipsos MORI poll where half of respondents said they didn’t think they would see the benefits of a Northern Powerhouse in their lifetimes should act as a warning.
However, on the whole there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. As a law firm with operations right across the North – with offices in Leeds and Newcastle as well as Manchester – we see at first hand the potential for the whole of the North to really take off. Let’s carry on buzzing.
* Find out more about the Fastest 50 Awards.
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