The Northern Powerhouse is in danger of becoming 'M62-centric' and benefiting the North West at the expense of other northern regions, an industry leader has warned.
Road development in the North East could become ‘a fringe on the M62-centric Northern Powerhouse’, failing to secure the infrastructure the region needs, Stephen Marshall, newly elected chairman of the Civil Engineering Contractors’ Association (CECA) in the North East has warned.
He told the group’s annual meeting that the region’s importance as a manufacturing base for the UK should not be overlooked.
The Northern Powerhouse could be too 'M62-centric'
Mr Marshall, a senior contracts manager for John Sisk and Son, said: ‘Major projects being undertaken in the region by Highways England and Network Rail have long-term frameworks in place. But funding for these continues to be questioned, and the long-term delivery of many of these projects is not guaranteed.
‘Meanwhile the National infrastructure Delivery Plan makes sweeping statements about investment in the North, with the Northern Powerhouse central to most plans.’
Mr Marshall said CECA would continue to lobby the region’s MPs, Local Enterprise Partnerships and others to ensure it is treated as a priority.
Outgoing chairman Chris Dancer said prospects for the region’s groundwork industry were looking brighter, leading to a skills shortage.
Mr Dancer, managing director of Northumbrian Roads, said that a rot has at least been stopped. When he became chairman two years ago the groundwork industry’s recovery was only evident in the South, he said.
He added: ‘There was real concern in the North East that things had to get worse before they got better here. But today is certainly brighter with businesses reporting growing sales and employee numbers rising.
‘A more predictable forward line of schemes is emerging around the region, and a skills shortage proving challenging.’