Northern Powerhouse Partnership report launch

Veka Group MD David Jones (left) shows George Osborne the warehouse during the factory tour.
Veka Group MD David Jones (left) shows George Osborne the warehouse during the factory tour.

The Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) chose Veka Group’s Burnley headquarters as the location for the launch of its latest report: ‘Powerhouse 2050: The North’s Routemap for Productivity.’

Established in the autumn of 2016, NPP aims to increase the contribution the north of England makes to the UK economy. This will be achieved through cooperation with local stakeholders at all levels along with government.

Following the publication of its first report earlier in the year – which focussed on education and Skills, infrastructure and assets, international competitiveness, and leadership and learning – the four primary capabilities of the Powerhouse 2050 report hones in on advanced manufacturing and materials, energy, digital, and health innovation, with a series of specific proposals for government funding, business investment, and closer collaboration across the north.

As one of the country’s biggest manufacturers of PVCU profile systems, and one of Burnley’s biggest employers, Veka seemed to be the perfect location for the auspicious occasion and, with almost 100 people packed into the conference room, the company said it was clear to see the demand for the latest literature from Northern Powerhouse Partnership had been eagerly anticipated.

Following an introduction from director of Northern Powerhouse Partnership Henri Murison, former chancellor and NPP chair George Osborne delivered a speech on the past, present and future of the initiative.

“One of the major aims is to improve connectivity,” he said. “Northern villages, towns and cities are proud of their local identities and steeped with history but are perhaps not big enough to make a global impact by themselves. They are close enough geographically however to team up; the distance between Manchester and Leeds, for example, is shorter than the Central Line of the London Underground.

“We have all the ingredients we need for the Northern Powerhouse to succeed, and now it’s time to make some decisions on what to focus on, because choosing everything means choosing nothing. A great idea like this cannot live and die with any one MP or government, but if the north itself owns this idea, it will endure.”

Jake Berry, MP and minister for Northern Powerhouse, then said: “The report contains some ambitious asks but it isn’t a wish list; it is a ‘call to arms’ for businesses in the region to unleash their full potential. Northern Powerhouse is here today in Burnley because it is a great northern power town. Everyone here shares an ambitious vision. We are the makers, the innovators and the disruptors.”

Before leaving for an engagement with students at The University of Manchester, George Osborne and Henri Murison were treated to a whistle stop tour of the Veka factory and mixing plant with managing director David Jones, and met with some of the newest apprentices at the company.

After the event, David Jones said: “It has a been a pleasure for Veka to host the launch of the latest Northern Powerhouse Partnership report, and as one of the primary capabilities is ‘advanced manufacturing and materials’, Veka seemed to set the scene perfectly.”

David concluded by saying: “I think I am speaking for everyone at Veka, when I say ‘we’re in’.”