The UK is suffering from a significant South North divide. Measured in health, culture as well as economic prospects, London and the South East has all the characteristics of a different – more prosperous – country. This is exacerbated by fiscal centralisation. As Neil McInroy highlights in an article 80 years of pain “Central government’s share of public spend in Germany is 19%, but it’s a whopping 72% in the UK. For example, New Economy Manchester has detailed, that of all the £22bn of public funds spent in Greater Manchester, central government controls how £16bn is spent and has significant say over the rest.
A pile of Reports and initiatives from the Barlow Commission in 1940 through to the RDAs and now the LEPs highlight and seek to address the gap but, in practice, have perhaps applied the brake but not been given the clout and resources to apply the accelerator.
Last November the Hull Freedom Centre staged the inaugural Northern Gateways Conference backed by Lords Prescott and Heseltine with a number of speakers on wide ranging topics such as infrastructure, energy, water, digital connectivity, knowledge and skills.
Northern Gateways is all about sustainable growth and opportunity across the corridor from the Mersey to the Humber. It promotes synergies across the great cities and towns that once were motors of Britain’s industrial revolution and which now need to re-discover that innovative zeal and drive to be world beaters so attractive to global investors and vital to creating the jobs that will give purpose and spending power to our Northern communities. London Infrastructure 2050 gives us a clue. There is a clear need for a Pan Northern Voice to articulate the need to envision the North 2050 and map the route to get there – in one piece.
Building from a number of projects over the past few years such as Will Alsop’s Super City; Lord Prescott’s Northern Gateway; Lord Heseltine’s No Stone Unturned Report and Professor Parkinson’s work on Second Cities across Europe; Northern Gateways responds to a fresh context:
- Trade flows. Supply chains compete not companies – across ever more stretched global networks of suppliers and consumers. Most products are sourced and produced in multiple locations.
- Trade corridors. This key element of economic growth policy across the globe:
- Facilitates trade within and enable trade beyond a given geography.
- Enables connected local communities to establish and maintain the capacity (infrastructure and resources) and capability (knowledge and skills) to generate sustainable socio economic growth. This has to have an inclusive focus.
- Promotes streams of products, services and information moving within and through communities across a given geography.
Northern Gateways seeks to formalise the Pan Northern Agenda through a Secretariat and Common interest networks of core sectors, Corporates and SMEs.
How is Northern Gateways relevant to Transformational Logistics?
Trade corridors describe routes between inland urban conurbations, industrial clusters and ports; local and national or global markets. Trade corridors act as a catalyst for the resources needed to maximise value addition, optimise aggregate costs and, create the environment to enable goals to be reached.
Northern Gateways will seek to champion and promote beyond the UK through the indentification and development of common purpose initiatives with other trade corridors worldwide. This responds to a wider global conteXT:
Demography. As we move from 6 to 10 billion global population by 2050 the shape of living shifts.
- Urbanisation: In 2010, urban overtook rural population for the first time. By 2050 this will reach 75 per cent.
- City Regions: By 2050, over 65 per cent of urban population will concentrate around 50 City Regions.
- Sustainability. We need to look beyond a narrow resource hungry focus on growth and profitability.
- Connectivity. The winners will be those City Regions that adapt and build effective and efficient internal and external connectivity.
- Inclusiveness. A widening gap between livelihoods and lifestyles is undermining sustainability in everything from energy to community cohesion. This is as true of the North South divide in the UK as it is worldwide.
- Competition. Recent decades have witnessed a concentration of market share and profitability in key sectors around less than ten global players. In parallel, job creation and growth has been generated by small firms of under 50 employees. We need to shift from a better, cheaper and ever faster set of supply chains with a focus on developing world monopolies to a more sustainable set of inclusive value streams. After all, the term chain has other connotations in Africa.
Given these trends, effective and efficient linkages between City Regions or with key resources (energy and materials); products and services will be at a premium.
Trade corridors within and between these established or emergent geographies emerge as a focal point for policy makers; investors; firms; knowledge and manual workers.
Trade corridors are not new. Historic trade corridors include the Silk Road running from China to Africa. These past few years, trade corridors offer a framework for investors, policy makers, firms and individuals alike. For example:
- USA. In the 1990s the US Federal Government made trade corridors a top priority. A west coast trade corridor from Canada to Mexico through the USA offers an example of International synergies with optimal border crossings.
- China. Coastal cities were the catalyst for the initial phase of growth followed by an emerging focus on trade corridors connecting more remote western provinces.
- India. The golden quadrilateral seeks to connect the major cities of Delhi; Mumbai; Cochin; Chennai and Calcutta with trade corridors acting as a catalyst for inward investment; vital infrastructure (multi modal transportation, logistics services and broadband connectivity), business capacity and skills.
- Africa.Development corridors and spatial development initiatives. One of the innovative ways to address this issue has been to invest in the development of trade corridors. Existing trade corridors in Eastern, Southern, and Western Africa have served as models for increased trade, improved job conditions, and overall improved social and economic outlooks for the continent.On Africa we are working with the And Albert Foundation.
Other posts on this topic will follow.