David Cameron has announced that Teesside MP James Wharton has been made the minister responsible for this government's vision of a "Northern Powerhouse."
The MP for Stockton South – winning with a majority of more than 5,000 seats in last week’s General Election, Wharton will lead the effort to boost the economy of the North, at the Department for Communities and Local Government.
According to the BBC, Wharton has represented the constituency since 2010 when he won a “slender majority” of 332; it also noted that the seat had been a “key Labour target.”
Plans for a Northern Powerhouse were announced by Chancellor George Osborne last year and included a new HS3 high-speed rail link between Leeds and Manchester. In his 2015 Budget made several comments regarding the vision, notingthat closing the economic gap between North and South would bring more than £18bn to the region by 2030.
Reacting to the Chancellors comments, David Brimelow of Manchester-based Duo UK, a polythene packaging manufacturer and supplier, commented: “It was good to hear more on the Northern Powerhouse concept in the Budget – the fact that Manchester will now keep 100% of the additional growth in its business rates is a significant step in empowering the regions and rebalancing the country away from London and the financial sector.
“It’s really positive for businesses in the North West that Manchester is leading the way in the regional devolution process; having the power to make decisions over crucial local infrastructure, coupled with the news on business rates, means we have a real advantage in generating additional growth.”