The Government’s Northern Powerhouse minister admitted that the concept has been too Manchester-focused, neglecting smaller towns and cities in the northern economy.
Jake Berry, who was named Northern Powerhouse minister last June, said the project would be extended to smaller cities and towns in what he dubbed “Northern Powerhouse 2.0”.
Carlisle is a prime example of a city that has a lot to offer but appears to be on the periphery of the Northern Powerhouse concept and thinking.
There are some big and important pillars of the Carlisle economy that make it a powerhouse in its own right.
Here’s why we think Carlisle can and should be at the forefront of the northern powerhouse conversation.
Carlisle has fantastic transport links that connect it to other big economic powerhouses in the north, and further afield.
The addition of the Carlisle Lake District Airport will improve transport links, initially to Ireland and Southend, but will also act as a huge attention grabber.
We hope that it will emphasise the city’s fantastic transport links and help portray it as an easy to access focal point of the north.
The airport should help the local tourism industry, and the big challenge to businesses is really to capitalise on the new influx of tourists.
The M6 and rail provide good links to big cities like Glasgow and London, but we think that transport within Cumbria, from the energy coast to the M6, or from Carlisle to the North East, would bring big benefits to the region.
The Lake District brings in millions of pound and millions of visitors to the local economy from around the world, but there’s more to the Cumbrian tourism scene than just the lakes.
Carlisle draws tourists from the lakes, tourism is also of major importance as a generator of economic prosperity and employment in the region.
However salaries are lower than the regional average and significantly lower than the national average, so this is an area for improvement.
The number of businesses and residents able to access superfast broadband in Carlisle has increased, partly due to the improvement of BT’s infrastructure, and also because other alternatives, such as Solway Comms, have emerged.
This improvement in connectivity is proven to have created new jobs and allowed businesses to grow and expand.
Now better infrastructure is in place, the government is keen for people and businesses to actually improve their connections. A £3000 voucher scheme was recently launched to help cut the costs of getting fast broadband connections.
Having levels of connectivity that are closer to those of Manchester and Liverpool mean that there is no reason why Carlisle should be less of a player in the Northern Powerhouse than those larger cities.
Click here to find out more about getting a faster and more reliable internet connection.
Click here to find out more about taking advantage of the new £3000 vouchers.
Carlisle has a prosperous economy which is already home to many international and successful brands, with the employment performance of Carlisle experiencing growth of 4.1% since 2009, outperforming the UK average.
Local businesses are proving that Carlisle makes a great place to start and grow a business. Organisations such as Story Homes and The Cumberland Building Society have shown that the city makes a good base to grow and expand.
Carlisle’s MP John Stevenson jointly chairs a new Northern Powerhouse all-party Parliamentary group (APPG), which in theory means that the city should be firmly planted on the Northern Powerhouse map.
When he was appointed to the role towards the end of last year, Mr Stevenson said: “I am delighted to be a chair of the Northern Powerhouse APPG that has been set up by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership. Carlisle is central to the Northern Powerhouse agenda – representing the ‘true North’ of the region.
“I am looking forward to driving this initiative in Parliament to increase investment in and awareness of the North as a place that drives business, skills and economic growth.”
Hopefully having our local MP chair this committee will allow Carlisle to be a focal point of the Northern Powerhouse.
What else does Carlisle need?
We would love to see a further increase in the amount of businesses accessing superfast and fibre broadband, because studies show that this can help the economy grow.
We would like to see businesses grow locally, and more businesses use Carlisle and Cumbria as a base, now that physical location is less of a barrier for many firms.
What else would benefit Carlisle, and Cumbria, and what would you say to Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry? Here’s some starters from us.
- Better transport links locally
- More flight destinations from Carlisle Airport
- More networking and collaboration between businesses in the area
- A diverse range of arts and cultural experiences