Liverpool mayor quits Northern Powerhouse Partnership

Leader of Manchester City Council Sir Richard Leese, Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson and former British finance minister George Osborne Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Joe Anderson (centre) and George Osborne (right) at the Northern Powerhouse Partnership launch

The mayor of Liverpool has quit the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP), saying it was "set up by a government which isn't prepared to listen".

The term "northern powerhouse" was first used in 2014 by then chancellor George Osborne to encompass economic growth plans for northern England.

Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said he "no longer see the point of being a part of these bodies".

The BBC has approached the government for its response.

Image caption Mr Anderson has called for better transport links

The NPP, which has been chaired by George Osborne since 2016, describes itself as an independent body that "represents the voice of business and civic leaders" in the region.

The government set out its northern powerhouse strategy in the same year, saying it would invest in better transport and boost business and skills.

However, the impact of austerity and a perceived lack of commitment on rail improvements have resulted in some critics talking about a "northern power cut".

Mr Anderson said: "We can't cut our way out of austerity.

"You have to invest for the long-term economic benefit and there is overwhelming evidence that investing in connections across the north would be good for UK plc.

"There are several bodies in the north, such as the Northern Powerhouse Partnership and Transport for the North providing government with this evidence but I no longer see the point of being a part of these bodies, set up by a government which isn't prepared to listen to them."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Liverpool has been a key part in northern culture including in this October's Giants parade

Referring to Channel 4's decision to set up its new headquarters in Leeds, Mr Anderson said: "Channel 4 made clear that they weren't going to choose Liverpool because of its poor connections, a reference to our not sitting on the HS2 network.

"This is a display of the real economic consequence of government's failure to invest in anywhere outside of London when we need it most."

Mr Anderson has long criticised the decision not to include Liverpool on the planned High Speed Two (HS2) line, which is due to link London with the Midlands, Manchester and Leeds by 2033.

However, HS2 trains are expected to stop at Liverpool Lime Street station from the high speed line at Crewe.

George Osborne, Chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: "I understand his frustration with the government over the Northern Powerhouse agenda, especially its lack of vision for high speed rail.

"It's precisely why we need our Northern Powerhouse Partnership to be as strong and as active as it is, and will continue to be."

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