Council chief's fears over Northern Powerhouse momentum
The chief executive of Liverpool City Council has raised concerns that the Northern Powerhouse could suffer in the political post-Brexit landscape.
Ged Fitzgerald spoke bullishly about Liverpool and the region’s digital tech sector but admitted to having some concerns about the devolution agenda.
He was one of seven speakers who took part in BusinessCloud’s ‘Tech in the Northern Powerhouse’ debate at Oh Me Oh My, in Liverpool.
“I remain slightly sceptical because I think the Northern Powerhouse was championed by certain people who might not be part of the ongoing government,” he said.
“If the current Chancellor is no longer the current Chancellor and Lord O’Neill is moved out and Lord Heseltine is moved onto other things, who is going to champion the cause of the Northern Powerhouse other than the northern leaders and other northern cities and businesses in isolation?
“The need now, more so than ever after Brexit, is to collaborate, settle our differences and agree the things we have in common that are going to make the most difference to the north.
“Digital and creative is a fantastic example of that.”
Fitzgerald praised the city’s relationship with neighbouring Manchester.
“We’ve collaborated with Manchester for a very long time,” he said. “They’ve had continuity and a lot of success through Sir Howard Bernstein and Sir Richard Leese. We’ve had less continuity but we’re putting our showcase together.”
He said Liverpool needed to lay its tech credentials out to the world. “It’s about big ambition but realistic ambition about what we’re world class at,” he said.
The ‘Tech in the Northern Powerhouse’ discussion was sponsored by KPMG and Liverpool Council and was held in association with The Edge.
The other speakers were Amy De-Balsi, owner, Herd; Andy Burton, CTO, Sky Betting and Gaming; Jon Corner, CEO, The Landing, MediaCityUK; Lou Cordwell, CEO, magneticNorth; Graham Pearce, Technology, Media and Telecommunications lead, KPMG North; and Professor Ahmed Al-Shamma, executive dean of the faculty of engineering and technology, Liverpool John Moore University.