The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) is an independent body that facilitates long term decision making on infrastructure by establishing the UK's strategic needs and building consensus on those needs, so vital projects are delivered.
In November 2015, the Commission issued a call for evidence on three priority challenges, one of which is improving connectivity in the north of England.
ICE's Northern Powerhouse panel, with a vast amount of expertise and experience in infrastructure and policy, put together a set of recommendations which were submitted by ICE as written evidence to the Commission. The submission welcomed the drive to boost growth in the North, the progress on devolution, and the growing success of individual northern cities. But it said the North would struggle to compete internationally as single economic zone without faster, more frequent transport services between cities and within cities, and better connections to outer city areas where universities, science parks and manufacturing bases are located.
A press release detailing ICE's submission was widely picked up by press in the north of England, including a front page news story in the Yorkshire Post which reported on ICE's calls for a "whole network" approach, rather than investing in individual projects. The submission was also featured in many other newspapers including Bradford's Telegraph and Argus. In it, they picked up on a quote from Richard Threlfall, ICE's Northern Powerhouse panel Chairman and KPMG's Head of Infrastructure:
"The growth opportunity for the North of England is huge. There is much to be done – spend on new transport infrastructure in the North has lagged behind for decades."
It was also picked up in the Huddersfield Daily Examiner and the Sheffield Star, demonstrating that infrastructure investment is an important topic across the north of England. ICE's Northern Powerhouse panel will continue to inform the debate and offer its expertise to Government.