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Tributes continue to Durham's Dave Hopper

Friends and colleagues of Durham Miners' Association Secretary, Dave Hopper, have been paying tribute to him following his death.

Mr Hopper died on Saturday. He was a stalwart of left-wing politics and was part of a team that helped revive the popularity of the Durham Miners' Gala.

Long time friend, Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck and former President of the National Union of Mineworkers, says he was devastated to hear of his death.

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What is the Northern Powerhouse?

According to the previous Chancellor George Osborne, Treasury figures suggested that if the northern economy grew in line with the rest of the UK over the next 18 years, it would be worth an additional £44bn in real terms.

That is the equivalent of over £1,600 for each person living in the north.

The hope is to redress the North-South economic imbalance, and to attract investment into northern cities and towns.

A major part of the deal involves devolution - elected mayors with extra funding to promote economic investment and to make decisions about services such as planning and transport.

Not everyone thinks that the Northern Powerhouse will, or can, provide tangible benefits for the north.

The Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, the MP for Westmoreland and Lonsdale, recently described the Northern Powerhouse as 'smoke and mirrors'.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron MP. Credit: PA/PA Wire/Press Association Images

"The Northern Powerhouse - giving a boost to the North's economy and giving people more of a say over where they live - is a great idea. To become reality, the Conservatives must match their fancy rhetoric with hard cash.

"The North of England urgently needs investment to support growth and jobs. Rather than continued cuts to local government funding, the government should be investing in transport infrastructure and broadband.

"Unless the government gives proper funding to the Northern Powerhouse, it will remain a grand title with no substance and voters in the North will continue to feel neglected by this Conservative government."

– Tim Farron MP, Liberal Democrat leader.

New Northern Powerhouse Minister confirmed

The government has confirmed that Yorkshire MP Andrew Percy is the new Northern Powerhouse Minister.

Andrew Percy MP. Credit: ITV News

Mr Percy, the Conservative MP for Brigg and Goole, takes over from Stockton South MP James Wharton.

Mr Wharton has been given a new job as a minister for International Development, as part of Theresa May's ministerial reshuffle.

Yorkshire MP to take on Northern Powerhouse role

Andrew Percy MP. Credit: ITV News

The Conservative MP Andrew Percy has confirmed to ITV News that he will take over the Northern Powerhouse 'brief', after being appointed the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government.

It comes after the previous Northern Powerhouse Minister, the Stockton South MP James Wharton, was given a new job as a minister for International Development.

Mr Percy, the MP for Brigg and Goole, said he did not know whether he will offically be Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, saying that 'job titles will be sorted out tomorrow'.

Northern Powerhouse 'will continue' after reshuffle

Prime Minister Theresa May's final ministerial appointments have left the government without a Northern Powerhouse minister, at least for the time being.

It was announced on Sunday morning that the Stockton South MP James Wharton, who had been the Northern Powerhouse Minister, had been given a new job.

He has been appointed to the post of Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Department for International Development.

James Wharton MP. Credit: Philip Toscano/PA Archive/Press Association Images

So what does this mean for the future of the Northern Powerhouse project?

The Northern Powerhouse concept was created and promoted by the then-Chancellor George Osborne, who wanted it to promote and facilitate investment and growth in the north of England.

Under a devolution deal, elected regional mayors would receive extra funding for economic investment and services such as transport.

When George Osborne was sacked by the new Prime Minister in last week's cabinet reshuffle, it raised questions about whether the entire project would prosper, or even survive, under the new administration.

Sunday's news that there is, currently, no minister for the Northern Powerhouse raises further questions about its future.

However, the Stockton South MP is confident that the project will go forward, and that a new Northern Powerhouse minister would soon be appointed.

“Over the last year and a bit we have done a lot of work to lay the foundations for economic growth in the north. I would want these things to continue for as long as locally people want them. The building blocks are there. We have laid the foundations. The [ministerial] role still exists, even though we do not yet know whom it has been allocated to. I hope the Northern Powerhouse project will continue and benefit our region."

– James Wharton MP, Stockton South, Conservative

Mr Wharton added that he was "really excited" about his new role in International Development.

“There is an awful lot that has to be done and it’s an opportunity to make a difference to people’s lives.”

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