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CN Briefing: Northern Powerhouse; Brexit; devolution

Among the upheaval of a new prime minister, Brexit debates rumbling on and disarray in the Labour Party, one of the current government’s key policies has had significantly less airtime.

The government’s commitment to the Northern Powerhouse has appeared to slip by the wayside, while new PM Theresa May has said she wants “a plan to help not one or even two of our great regional cities but every single one of them”.

This has been interpreted as suggesting there will be less focus on the North, with a more broad-based approach to devolution.

That’s why it was refreshing to hear communities secretary Greg Clark give his full backing to the Northern Powerhouse and the potential of what he called “turbo-charged” devolution.

Speaking to Construction News, Mr Clark said “there has never been a better time” for local leadership to drive growth, adding that he expected housebuilding to take “centre stage” amid a new set of devolution deals.

Following Brexit, the devolution agenda can be sped up significantly, he argued. With powers taken away from Brussels, Mr Clark said it would be “the wrong thing” for those powers to “default to Westminster and Whitehall”, rather than to the regions.

Encouraging thoughts, then, if they are realised.

And while Mrs May has pledged that there will be more government-backed infrastructure bonds to help boost the industry, the Northern Powerhouse will need to shout louder than ever before to be heard in the post-referendum din.

That’s where Construction News can help.

I’m delighted to be starting a new role with CN working as our northern correspondent based in Manchester.

I’m especially proud, as a northerner myself, that I’ll be able to report directly on the issues that will affect construction across the whole of the North.

Part of this, of course, will be covering every detail of the government’s Northern Powerhouse agenda, and how issues raised by the policy will affect you and your business.

Look out for news, views and features covering the North of England from 1 August this year when I begin my new role – please get in touch with stories, features, projects, issues… indeed, anything and everything construction-related in the North.

Also in the news

Tideway has picked three consultants for a four-year framework. The three will provide commercial support services for the £4.2bn super sewer project.

It’s not been a great day for Interserve: a buyer has pulled out of a deal for its offsite plant, while one the firm’s energy-from-waste suppliers, Energos, has gone into administration.

We’ve also got a project report from Daniel Kemp, who travelled to Inverness to see Morrison’s Highland Hospice.

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