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Northern economy could see " Victorian style growth" says think tank

The northern economy could experience economic growth on a scale "not seen since the Victorian era of grand municipal development" if timely investment in the region takes place, a new report suggests.

Commitments to major transport infrastructure spending, strong leadership and a sense of urgency to progress devolution are the "key ingredients for turning northern powerhouse rhetoric into national economic prosperity", the research by think tank IPPR North concluded.

The analysis, entitled Rhetoric to Reality: A business agenda for the Northern Powerhouse, argues the potential exists for businesses in the North West, North East and Yorkshire and Humber to grow, boosting the economy through "properly directed investment".

It notes the economy of the three northern regions is worth #289 billion - "twice the size of Scotland's, and bigger than all the devolved nations' economies combined", adding: "If it were a national economy, the north of England would rank as tenth largest in the EU."

It added: "The economies of the five biggest cities together grew by 38.8 per cent in the 10 years to 2013 - more than the UK outside London (38.3 per cent).

Their populations grew by over half a million (5.4 per cent) in the 10 years to 2014, which is more than live in the city of Manchester."

It went on: "In the last year, the rate of job creation in areas such as North Eastern (4.8%) and Leeds City Region (4.0%) was more than double the national rate of 1.9% (which is matched by the North as a whole)."

The report argued a rebalanced economy can only be achieved through tackling "lagging" productivity, under-investment in transport infrastructure spending, poor connectivity between cities in the north and lower qualifications and skills levels.

It stated that the prospects for the northern powerhouse's long-term success "rest not on its political salience but on its potential to generate genuine economic prosperity for its businesses and citizens".

The report identified four key drivers of growth in the northern economy, including: infrastructure and connectivity, human capital, innovation and business support, plus leadership and policy development.

It argued: "The forthcoming spending review must make a step-change in commitment to the north of England, with large-scale government capital spending of up to £50 billion that can be used to leverage even greater private investment."

It added: "There is an urgent need (for) more detail and more action to support the pan-northern vision - 'one north, one economy' - to ensure that business, public and civil sectors are galvanised to act now to sustain the momentum behind devolution and take advantage of this unprecedented window of opportunity."

"The historical economic under-performance of the north of England is not natural, nor is it inevitable. We have seen past attempts at 'regional policy' fall by the wayside, but the northern powerhouse has momentum and has galvanised leaders in the North. "But investment, leadership and urgency are the key ingredients for turning northern powerhouse rhetoric into national economic prosperity. The momentum is building, the benefits are great - the opportunity is there to be seized for northern prosperity to create national prosperity."

– Ed Cox, director of IPPR North and co-author of the report

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Police appeal for missing Sheffield man

Police in Sheffield are asking for your help locating missing 32-year-old Robert Brown.

Missing Robert Brown Credit: South Yorkshire Police

Robert was last seen at around 10am this morning at his home in Lowedges Road, Sheffield.

Robert is described as being around 5ft 6ins tall, with brown shaven hair. He has a tattoo on his upper left arm which says something similar to ‘only the strong survive’.

He is known to have links to Derbyshire.

Officers are becoming increasingly concerned for Robert’s welfare and urge anyone who sees him to get in touch.

Health chiefs hint at approval for Morquio drug

Health chiefs look set to approve a pioneering drug which patients of the ultra-rare and life-limiting Morquio Syndrome say could be life changing.

Morquio patient Sam Brown and his parents outside 10 Downing Street Credit: ITV Yorkshire

Health regulator NICE has today issued draft guidance conditionally recommending the drug Vimizin after a 16-month battle by campaigners.

Morquio Syndrome is a degenerative condition which limits growth and mobility and shortens life expectancy to an average of 25 years.

There is no known cure but Vimizim - an enzyme replacement therapy - has been shown to improve lives by allowing children to grow, improve stamina, walking and pain.

Vimizim was licensed by the European Medicines Agency in April 2014 and is now reimbursed in over 30 countries, but in England has only been temporarily available to those on the original clinical trial thanks to the goodwill of manufacturer BioMarin.

Campaigners have since been locked in a hard-fought battle to persuade decision-makers to fund the drug to Morquio’s patients - which numbers just 88 in England including six year old Sam Brown from Otley who has been treated with Vimizin for the past three years.

“It’s the most encouraging situation we’ve been in throughout the journey so far. It finally feels like we’re being listened to and taken seriously."

– Katy Brown Sam's mother
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Police appeal for missing 37-year old from Nottinghamshire

Kirsty Stevens has been missing from her home since 22 August Credit: Nottinghamshire Police

Police are growing increasingly concerned for the well being Kirsty Stevens, 37, who has been missing from her home in Eastwood since 22 August.

It is believed she may have travelled to the Sheffield area.

Kirsty is white, around 5ft 5ins tall, with long dark wavy hair and was last seen wearing a green jacket, blue jeans and black boots. She is also described as very well-spoken.

Kirsty, or anyone who knows where she is, should telephone Nottinghamshire Police on 101.

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Eggborough power station bosses start closure talks

The owners of Eggborough Power Station have announced it is to close with the loss of up to 240 staff jobs and hundreds more contractors.

Bosses blame their decision to stop generating power by next March on expensive green taxes and a refusal by the Government to help pay for the power plant to move from burning coal to a cleaner alternative. James Webster reports.

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