• Carmel Booth

Carmel Booth: Industry reflections and predictions

Carmel Booth, chief executive of Atlantic Gateway and partner, Calderstones Consulting

If I’d only known…

“The start of 2016 saw property and stock markets bouncing back from the lows of 2008, analysts predicting that the UK would remain in the EU and globally we had the prospect of the first female president of the USA. 2016 showed us how quickly things can change… and that pollsters and analysts are not always right!

“The early part of 2016 saw the then Chancellor, George Osborne, strongly backing the Northern Powerhouse and hopes were high for significant investment in infrastructure, especially transport. Love it or loathe it, the concept put the North back on the political agenda.

“But the Northern Powerhouse lost one of its greatest supporters from the front benches later that year and not many people saw it coming. As a North West MP, Osborne clearly understands the growth potential of the North and was disappointed at the new government’s initial ‘wobble’ over the Northern Powerhouse concept.

“Momentum was lost last year but appears to be back on track, albeit having taken a knock. If only we’d known about the political changes in 2016, perhaps we wouldn’t have taken the Northern Powerhouse concept for granted.”

In my crystal ball…

“It’s going to be a challenging year as the UK starts to negotiate its way out of the EU but I don’t believe it’s all doom and gloom. The North West is resilient and well placed to build upon its strengths and new opportunities.

“2017 will see a focus on the ‘three Is’ – internationalism, innovation and infrastructure. The UK may be leaving the EU but it remains a key global player and 2017 will see renewed focus on export markets, international relationships and growth of the North West’s two key international gateways; the Port of Liverpool and Manchester Airport.

“Innovation is back in the spotlight and Brexit may result in an even stronger drive from the government and the private sector to invest to improve productivity and growth. 2017 will see the regions’ universities becoming increasingly more influential, working closer than ever with businesses, government and cities to drive innovation.

“Despite some government promises about infrastructure investment, frustration is building. 2017 will see louder calls from the private sector for the government to take action on key proposals including Northern Powerhouse rail and better connectivity so that the North really can claim to be a Northern Powerhouse.”