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Convention of the North raises expectations

The inaugural Convention of the North drew over 200 delegates for what was the biggest meeting of northern businesses and civic leaders in a generation.

A post conference press release said the communities of the North are demanding change after Brexit. “There are expectations that our towns and cities, and our country, will be different. The repatriation of powers from Brussels must be recognised as an opportunity for further devolution out of Westminster,” the release said.

Paul Szomoru, director of business events at NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau, said: “It was brilliant to welcome political and business leaders to NewcastleGateshead for the first ever Convention of the North. The iconic BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art on the Quayside was the perfect venue for the event which saw crucial issues from across the North discussed.”

The delegates agreed that government must more fully engage with the North on what a post-Brexit landscape looks like, and it must do so before, not after the Brexit deadline. 

On transport, the post-Convention press release noted: “The North wants to work with government to ensure there is a fit for purpose transport system that meets the needs of our travelling public, both now and in the future. 

“We want to work together to identify the cause of recent problems and we want the powers to prevent them being repeated.

“We are ambitious to create more and better jobs across the North, and we therefore need greater ability to direct skills investment and plan the workforce of our future.” 

The Convention was clear that these issues are best addressed alongside a northern-wide devolution process. “More decisions that affect the North must be taken in the North,” the statement added. 

The 6 September Convention was held within the framework of the Great Exhibition of the North which ran 22 June-9 September.