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George Osborne chairs first Northern Powerhouse Partnership meeting in Manchester

Former chancellor George Osborne will chair the first meeting of the new Northern Powerhouse Partnership think tank today.

The Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) was launched by Mr Osborne in September 2016 and includes members of Manchester Airports Group, Mace, Barclays and the Associated British Ports on its board.

The NPP, has also added Siemens, EY, Addleshaw Goddard and property developer Bruntwood to its board, as well as political representatives from across the North, with each company making a financial contribution to the project.

Today’s meeting in Manchester is the first in a series of evidence-gathering roundtables, with further events set to take place in Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield and Liverpool during 2016.

The think tank will aim to support the devolution of powers and funds to the northern city regions, the improvement of northern transport links and help create more jobs in the region, as well as make recommendations to central government.

Mr Osborne, who was replaced as chancellor by Philip Hammond in July, said the think tank would be his major political focus, adding that the roundtables would help to “develop a consensus across the North” on how the region can grow economically.

Steve Gillingham, director of the North at Mace and one of the NPP’s founding members, said the meeting came “at a critical time”.

“Following the vote to leave the EU, it is now more important than ever that the private and public sector come together with one voice to provide the expertise and long-term commitment needed to create an economic powerhouse in the North,” he said.

“As the new government prepares to set out its vision of an industrial strategy which promotes growth across the whole of the UK, it is vitally important that we in the North make our voices heard to ensure the Northern Powerhouse becomes a reality.”

Siemens CEO Jurgen Maier said his firm saw great opportunities to develop infrastructure projects in the North.

“Working with the NPP we also hope to raise awareness for some of the new digital prospects across the North, something that will become increasingly important for the manufacturing sector,” he added. 

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