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  1. Daniel Hewitt - Political Reporter

Special Report: The North West economy - can it really compete with the South?

As part of Granada Reports 2015 election coverage, ITV News polled North West viewers about the issues which would decide which way they would vote.

Granada Reports is broadcasting a series of live shows ahead of May 7 on the future of the NHS, the cost of living and immigration, but on budget day we're looking at the economy in the North West.

The Chancellor has put the North at the heart of his plan for the economy. Labour and the Lib Dems both agree the economy needs to be rebalanced and the North needs to compete with the South. All agree the UK is too London-centric.

The North West economy is growing - but is everyone benefiting? And is the north ready to compete with the south?

Our political correspondent Daniel Hewitt reports.

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Granada Reports Election 2015 Special - Lucy Meacock gets views on the economy in Warrington

As part of Granada Reports 2015 election coverage, ITV News polled North West viewers about the issues which would decide which way they would vote.

Granada Reports is broadcasting a series of live shows ahead of May 7 on the future of the NHS, the cost of living and immigration but the first is the economy. Anchored from the Omega Business Park in Warrington, Lucy went into the town to gauge some views.

READ: Daniel Hewitt on the Chancellor's Northern Powerhouse budget

Lucy at Golden Square shopping centre Credit: Picture: GTV
Giving their views - the people of Warrington speak out Credit: Picture: GTV
A time to speak - Lucy voxing shoppers in Warrington Credit: Picture: GTV

The Granada Reports team was at the Golden Square Shopping Centre in the town centre and spoke to dozens of viewers, fittingly enough, on Budget Day.

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Four politicians, 80 students and some tough questions

Loreto College, Manchester Credit: GTV
Xaverian College, Manchester Credit: GTV
Rivington and Blackrod Sixth Form College, Bolton Credit: GTV
Maghull High School in Merseyside Credit: GTV

THE PRESENTER'S VIEW

Granada Reports' Lucy Meacock chaired the debate - this is her blog

It was a great idea. Take 80 teenagers from schools across the North West, add four of our leading politicians and debate some of the big issues of our time.

There was a real sense of excitement as everyone arrived at the People’s Museum in Manchester.

The museum pays tribute to the Chartists and Suffragettes - the people who fought so hard for everyone to have the right to vote. The North West has always led the way when it comes to our democratic process. It was the perfect setting to make sure we heard views from the voters of the future.

They came from Liverpool, Bolton and Manchester and were ushered into the room where we were filming the debate. It’s pretty daunting to see all the cameras and have a microphone thrust into your hand. So before filming when I started the warm up no one wanted to be the first to speak.

But make no mistake there is huge interest in politics here. Ignore the young voter at your peril. Once they started asking the questions there was no stopping them!

The panel face a grilling from the students Credit: GTV

Our audience was made up of teenagers who want to be scientists, lawyers, politicians or journalists - but most of them remain undecided about their future careers

They thought the biggest issues were the economy and jobs, their biggest concern was finding satisfying work that pays a decent wage in the future. Their other main concern was the National Health Service - they all agreed it should remain free to anyone who needs medical treatment.

They were asked about a range of subjects including the NHS Credit: GTV

There were some great moments – When North West MEP Sajjad Karim told us why it was important for jobs and the economy that we stayed in the EU the complete opposite of the view from John Bickley (UKIP).

And when Mr Karim asked how many people wanted to see the NHS remain free to everyone who needs it - he got a resounding yes.

Lisa Nandy for Labour told them seeing people sleeping rough on the streets of Manchester inspired her to go into politics and when Lord Mike Storey for the Lib Dems, a former head teacher and former leader of Liverpool City Council said if he had his time over he wasn’t sure he would go into politics again.

John Bickley for UKIP told them how important it was to vote and if you don’t like any of the parties and what they’re saying go and form one of your own.

The panel faced challenging questions from the students Credit: GTV
All taking part agreed that it had been a worthwhile experience Credit: GTV

To find out more about the People's History Museum in Manchester, click here

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