On Wednesday the 25th of January, Manchester held the annual Convention of the North conference 2023. The convention saw around 1,000 delegates including the North’s most powerful and high-profile political figures, come together in one place to talk about the challenges and opportunities facing the North.

Daniel Heery & Tom Barker from Cumbria Social Enterprise Partnership (CSEP) were invited to the event as well as colleagues from the Cumbria LEP (CLEP) who held a stand in the exhibition centre.  Place North West have written about some of the key messages coming from the convention, read their article here.

The conference was kicked off by Sir Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of NP11, who ran through the day’s schedule as well as the objectives for the conference. The conference was a chance to shine a light on the North’s assets; advanced manufacturing, digital, clean energy and net zero, trade, transport, people and strength of the place. A number of Policy Documents were released ahead of the event. 

Convening the North Draft 17.01.pdf.pdf

COTN Policy Paper – Clean Energy and Net Zero.pdf.pdf

COTN Policy Paper – Digital and AM.pdf.pdf

COTN Policy Paper – Health.pdf.pdf

COTN Policy Paper – People and Good Jobs.pdf.pdf

COTN Policy Paper – Trade and Investment.pdf.pdf

COTN Policy Paper – Transport.pdf.pdf

The morning’s workshops allowed delegates from around the North to discuss these policy papers and assets of the North (advanced manufacturing, digital, clean energy and net zero, trade, transport, people and strength of place) in more detail and how these assets can be used to further economic growth.  Daniel attended the clean energy workshop which aimed to prioritise which measures should be actively pursued:

Proposition 1: Transforming the supply side in globally significant emerging technologies

Proposition 2: Demand side engagement supporting shared capacity

Proposition 3: Promoting Green Skills 

Delegates could not agree on a particular priority but on behalf of the sector – we supported Proposition 2 – as it focuses on what communities can do themselves, whereas other initiatives depended on overseas investment.

The lunch break was a chance to network with the exhibitors & other delegates. It was useful to meet up with stakeholders from Cumbria and further afield across the North, including colleagues from Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP), Cumbria CVS and Greater Manchester Council for Voluntary Service who provide Social Enterprise support across their City Region.  Follow up meetings have been held with some of the delegates to progress ideas in clean growth and careers advice on social enterprise.  In a meeting with Lord Inglewood, Chair of Cumbria LEP, we reinforced the message about the vital role that Social Enterprise plays in the County.

The afternoon talks kicked off with Michael Gove announcing the government’s plans for Levelling Up in the North & the Levelling Up White Paper that was released earlier this year. The packed auditorium was amused throughout the speech as the Secretary of State for Levelling Up was hurried along by the BBC’s Evan Davis after going over his allotted 30-minute slot.

The remainder of the day was filled with speeches & discussions from high-profile political figures from across the North, including Lisa Nandy, Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region & Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester. 

Overall, the day was a success, allowing delegates, speakers & exhibitors to discuss issues & accomplishments of Northern communities.