While there is not enough collaboration across the Northern Powerhouse, the regions are “getting closer”, the chief executive of Peel Ports has told Insider. Mark Whitworth also stressed that improved local transport connections must be at the heart of the initiative and added that while some significant events have impacted on the government’s focus, not enough progress on the agenda has been made.
Whitworth has held the role since July 2010, prior to which he was chief executive of Peel Airports.
He started his career as an operations manager for Marks & Spencer, before spending 12 years at Speedy Hire in various managing director roles.
Speaking to Insider about the Northern Powerhouse, Whitworth said he thinks the initiative is a “real opportunity to create a shared agenda of improving northern connectivity, prosperity and a sustainable economy”.
But when asked whether enough had happened over the past three years, he added: “No, although there have been some significant events that have impacted on the government’s focus, not least the Brexit vote and its consequences.
“However, we continue to support the initiative and to press for further action and investment.”
Whitworth believes that while there has not been enough collaboration between towns and cities across the North, “we are getting closer”.
“A good example of this is the work we did through the IPPR and other northern ports on the potential for our sector to contribute to a stronger UK economy,” he continued.
Revealed last year, the Northern Ports Association will unite Teesport (PD Ports), Tyneside (Port of Tyne), Hull (ABP Ports) and Liverpool (Peel Ports), making importing and exporting “much easier”. The organisation was a recommendation in IPPR North’s Northern Ports report, which highlighted the domination of southern ports and the problems this creates in transporting imports and exports across the UK.
“This needs to be matched by similar collaboration between the political leaderships of communities across the region,” said Whitworth. “We also call on other leading businesses in the region to give their support and to look positively for the opportunities where working together can be to our collective benefit.”
The Peel Ports chief executive stressed that improved local transport connections, especially to and from the port, are “critical” and must dominate the Northern Powerhouse agenda.
“The key to the success of the Northern Powerhouse is to make is easier for businesses to invest and create the incomes and jobs that will provide sustained economic benefits for the region and the UK as a whole,” he said.
“Improved transport infrastructure will help us and our customers to transport goods with reduced costs, congestion and carbon emissions. That is good news for everyone in the area.
“Skills development and more affordable housing will ensure that we have access to the talented workforce that we need to keep us at the forefront of our industry.”
Source: www.insidermedia.com, 15 December 2017