It is time for the North to take back its power.

It is time for the Government to sit up and take notice of the powerhouse we are.

It is time for the North to lead the next industrial revolution.

Today, as the starting pistol is fired for the country to head to the polls, The Westmorland Gazette demands that the incoming UK government hears our voice.

The North controls its own agenda and it needs the Government to work with us to achieve its ambitions.

Political parties will be pitching what they can do for the North in the coming weeks, so the North’s business and elected leaders have created a manifesto which will leave them in no doubt of what we expect.

Published today, the manifesto is the first of its kind and its game-changing policies will ensure our potential is unleashed.

The policies outline the North’s ambitions for clean growth, devolution, transport, education and investment and trade.

The manifesto wants:

  • Local control of education and training, skills provision connected to the North’s businesses and growth needs, creating opportunity for all our people;
  • A commitment to rebalancing the economy as a formal HM Treasury objective, delivering transformational investment to power up the North;
  • A transport budget for the North, enabling full delivery of the Transport for the North plan and supporting the devolution of control and shared accountability for the region’s rail network;
  • Ownership of, and freedom to lead, investment and trade activities to drive export led growth, with a greater investment to level up the North’s export and inward investment activities;
  • Backing the North to lead the green industrial revolution, harnessing and investing in its prime capability in renewable energy, decarbonising industry, retrofitting existing housing stock and building new homes to the highest standards.

Today, The Westmorland Gazette and our sister titles – plus publications across the North – are demanding that the political parties vying for votes pledge their commitment to Power Up The North.

It will be delivered to the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour parties as a unified vision of how the North’s potential can be unleashed.

The manifesto, its creators say, represents the North’s business drive and collective political will.

Its aim is to influence major changes, from skills and education, to housing, transport, innovation, trade and investment, and clean growth.

Following a year that has seen the largest co-ordinated action on climate change to date, political and business leaders across the North of England have backed the manifesto which seeks to enable the North to lead a green industrial revolution and address the over-centralisation of the UK economy.

Roger Marsh OBE, chair of the NP11, said: “Our region led the first industrial revolution and today it can become the crucible for the fourth - and first sustainable - industrial revolution, but only if we take critical action now.”

Central to that is the clean growth agenda.

The manifesto says: “The North is the UK’s energy powerhouse, generating 41 per cent of England’s electricity. It can, and should, lead the transition to a zero-carbon economy.”

This week, the West Cumbrian organisation Britain Energy Coast Business Cluster’s shadow board is hosting global Reach, a clean energy conference in Manchester, bringing together experts to discuss how the energy industry can work together.

John Grainger, executive director of the cluster, said: “The manifesto has elements that are pertinent for Cumbria. Paramount within that is the leadership role that Cumbria has to play in the aspirations for clean energy.

“This is not just about nuclear it is about the wider energy opportunities.

“Following the signing of a collaboration within business clusters in England and Wales at the Global Reach event, there is obvious benefit in collaboration to increase the business opportunities that might fall out of various sector deals waiting to be announced. “Cumbria and BECBC which has paved the way in this meaningful collaboration coming together, will indeed look to provide a platform for business growth for our communities going forward.”

Giles Archibald, leader of South Lakeland District Council, said: “In South Lakeland we were the first authority in Cumbria to declare a climate emergency and we think it should be a key priority of our national government to commit to do more to tackle climate change. There should also be stronger commitments to reverse the damaging trend of biodiversity loss and to protect our environment.

“We would also call on the next government to reduce inequalities, particularly in tackling homelessness, poverty and rural isolation.

“We are working on ambitious plans to drive economic growth for South Lakeland and the wider Morecambe Bay area. To achieve our ambitions, we need the next government to support us with commitments to significantly improved infrastructure and connectivity.’’

The manifesto has the ambition for a well-educated and skilled North, where talent is nurtured and in-work training is available and accessible for all.

Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber would be releasing its own manifesto next week.

He added: “Skills shortages are a real challenge for Cumbrian businesses.

“The next government has to reform apprenticeships to address the alarming fall in the number of apprenticeship starts and it must build on T-levels, due to start next year, to improve the status of vocational qualifications.”

The manifesto also demands that transport is improved across the North, an issue which the chamber has campaigned for in Cumbria for years.

Julian Whittle, its business engagement manager, said: “Better transport links promote economic growth. The next government should add the Kendal Northern Access Route and an Ulverston bypass.

“Long term, a road crossing of Morecambe Bay and the Duddon as part of a tidal energy scheme would transform links to Barrow and Millom.”

Mr Marsh added: “ This manifesto sets out the direction that we need to take.

“We stand united as a region.

“For the benefit of our future of generations, we ask the next government to work with us and ensure this plan is every success it deserves to be.”