POLITICIANS and business leaders have vowed to work with representatives from unions, community groups and other organisations to create a powerful new voice for the north.

The Convention of the North is to be established this summer and the first official meeting is to be held in Newcastle on September 6.

The aim is to create a forum to discuss issues affecting the region and beyond as well as the opportunities that lie ahead.

Newcastle City Council leader Councillor Nick Forbes said: “We want to bring together a Convention of the North that can champion and challenge, promoting all that is best about the north while ensuring government works with us on creating a stronger more prosperous UK.”

Council leaders and elected mayors met in Newcastle at the weekend for the opening of the Great Exhibition of the North to set out details of this summer’s convention.

Members of the convention hope to create a united north to speak to Government with a strong voice, so preparations can be made for the impact of Brexit.

The leaders’ decision to form the convention comes after the difficulties on northern rail services sparked debate about the need to revive the devolution agenda.

Delegates gathering for the convention in September will have their say on the transport needs of the north, how their voice should be heard in Brexit discussions, the education and skills agenda and unite behind a cross-northern demand for greater devolution.

The convention is not intended to be a new statutory body but will meet regularly and speak for the north on important national and regional issues.

Cllr Forbes said: “This convention will see representatives from across the north get involved in creating a vision for the north, and we’ll be setting out more details shortly.”

Those attending Saturday’s convention planning event include Nick Forbes, Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council and chair of Core Cities group; Peter Box, chair of Key Cities group; Susan Hinchcliffe, chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority; Peter Jackson, leader of Northumberland County Council; Sue Jeffrey, leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council; Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council; Shabir Pandor, leader of Kirklees Council; Samantha Dixon, leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council; Bruce Pickard, North Tyneside Council; Sue Murphy, Manchester City Council; Steve Rotheram, Liverpool City Region Metro-Mayor; Dan Jarvis, Mayor Sheffield City Region; and Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham.