CONFIDENCE is the lifeblood of continued business growth and success.

That is why our local businesses should reflect and take stock of Centre for Cities report into the 63 largest towns in the UK.

Warrington is the top performer in the north of England. Businesses look for a good place to trade, good infrastructure, where private and public partnerships work well together and there is a good supply of skills – we have all of this in abundance.

The Northern Powerhouse Partnership Report last week reported that one of the north's greatest challenges is educational achievement. Warrington’s performance is well above the national average and we have significantly less people with formal qualifications.

We also have more people with degree level qualifications.

Productivity and innovation are driven in long run economic growth and it’s great to see our productivity levels (GVA)) are the biggest in the north. Of course the enemy of confidence is complacency which is the reason why ‘Warrington and Co’ and its partners continue to work smart and hard with a ‘can do’ ‘will do’ attitude to attract further investment.

The report does have one significant downside.

It shows that in the past two years the ‘north’ has fallen further behind the ‘south’ in terms of economic growth, lower employment rates and lower average wages. Is the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ really working and are the policies and investment really happening to deal with the national economic imbalance?

Is it rhetoric or economic reality? Does the minister for the north have sufficient clout in government to ensure that the necessary investment moves to the north?

Whatever the reports of the economic impact, assessment reveal there is likely to be a stutter in the national economy so it’s even more vital that the north gets more positive attention.

I once got into a bit of trouble for my media statement “It’s Grim Down South”. I still believe it is in terms of quality of life but a visit to London/South East these days feels like a visit to a different trading nation.

We all need to campaign for the ‘north’ to get a fair deal and use Warrington as the exemplar model of a successful and sustained economic engagement and growth.

Professor Steven Broomhead