If the recent chaos on the railways proved anything, it was the need for the North to have a voice in the corridors of power – and a strong and united one.
That voice will be found this summer, when a Convention of the North is established. Northern council leaders will meet alongside business leaders, representatives from trade unions, community groups and other organisations. The decision by political leaders to form the convention comes after the difficulties on northern rail services reinforced the need to revive the devolution agenda.
Council leaders and mayors from across the North – including Leeds’ own leader, Judith Blake – met in Newcastle on the opening weekend of the Great Exhibition of the North to set out details of this summer’s Convention.
Newcastle will host its first official meeting on September 6.
The Convention offers the first chance for a united North to speak to government with a strong voice, a crucial step in preparing for the impact of Brexit.
Delegates gathering for the Convention in September will have their say on the transport needs of the north, how their voice should be heard in Brexit discussions, the education and skills agenda and unite behind a cross-northern demand for greater devolution.
Cllr Judith Blake, Labour Leader of Leeds City Council, welcomed the move: “The meeting was a very important first step to enable the North to work as one in putting forward our common vision and priorities to Westminster. The Convention of the North will give business, civic leaders and partners a powerful voice to engage with this and future Governments on key issues for communities across the North, such as transport, skills, devolution and Brexit.”
The Convention is not intended to be a new statutory body but will meet regularly and speak for the North on important national and regional issues.
We’ll be following its progress and activity with great interest.