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Northern Powerhouse Partnership demands party leaders back HS2 as report is leaked
November 12, 2019

Northern Powerhouse leaders today called on all political parties to back the HS2 rail project after the Government’s report was leaked to The Times. Prime Minister Boris Johnson had sought to defer releasing former HS2 chairman Douglas Oakervee’s independent review of the scheme until after the General Election. It was scheduled to be released last month. But The Times today published details from the review which calls on the Government to press ahead with the project, in spite of soaring costs. According to The Times, the Oakervee report says HS2 – which will connect London with Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds – is not affordable within its current £56bn budget, and costs will likely have to rise to £88bn, and possibly higher. Mr Oakervee also concludes that the economic benefit to the taxpayer from HS2 has fallen dramatically from £2.30 for every £1 spent, in 2017, to £1.30 now. £9bn has already been spent on HS2, and the report estimates it will cost between £2.5bn to £3.6bn to cancel it. Proposed completion dates have also been drastically extended. Phase one, from London to Birmingham was due to open in 2026, but will now open in 2031. Phase two, from Birmingham to Crewe should have been ready by 2027 but will be delayed to 2031, while the third phase to Leeds, Manchester and Wigan has been delayed from a 2033 opening to 2040. But Mr Oakervee concludes that HS2, nevertheless, should proceed.

£4m funding deal for firm to expand into USA market
October 15, 2019

Maven Capital Partners, has led a £4m investment in language understanding business, Relative Insight (RI), which has a Lancaster base. The transaction comprises a £3m package from Maven’s VCTs, alongside £1m from NPIF-Maven Equity Finance, part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund. The funding will support the company’s growth strategy as it expands into the USA and develops its technology platform to help companies drive business value from language data. The RI platform is used by companies to gain significant business value from their language data assets. Most companies have considerable language data assets. Surveys, reviews, CRM and social media all represent rich sources of business intelligence and advantage if analysed in the right way. Unstructured data, such as language, makes up 80% of annual data growth according to IDC – making it a critical business asset to be leveraged.

Construction consultancy on track for £3m profit
October 15, 2019

A Lancashire based construction consultancy says it performed well in the second half of the year. Rossendale based Driver Group said it has performed well during the second half of 2018/19 and, as a result, expects to report underlying profit before tax for the financial year of approximately £3m. The company incurred one-off costs amounting to £400,000 as part of a rationalisation of its cost base. The firm saw a strong performance in the UK and Europe offsetting a weaker result in the Middle East and Asia Pacific regions. Period-end net cash balances were approximately £5m after funding dividend and share buyback payments during the year. The company said it continues to perform well across markets, regions and sectors with the new business enquiry pipeline at a healthy level.