Image of Mortar Boards being thrown in the air in celebration

Robert Hough CBE DL

Oration

Presented by: Rod Hill

Honourable Chancellor, it is with great pleasure that I present Robert Hough for the award of an Honorary
Fellowship of Liverpool John Moores University.

Born in Urmston, Manchester Robert was a pupil at William Hulme’s Grammar School and studied law at Bristol before qualifying as a solicitor, where he specialised in corporate, commercial and banking law. He had the perfect training for taking a calm and considered approach to a public life that has been dedicated to changing the landscape of the North West.

Looking at the role that Robert has played in the public arena is like looking at the success story of Manchester and Liverpool over the last 30 years.

He was Chairman of the Manchester Ship Canal Company from 1987 to 2002. He was a Director and Deputy Chairman of Peel Holdings until 2009. Peel Holdings is one of the largest infrastructure, real estate and investment enterprises in the UK with a diverse network of businesses ranging from  ports to airports; land to leisure; media to hotels; wind farms to biomass; and a portfolio of investments in major public companies. 

Their pioneering approach to regeneration has transformed the North West with a focus on developments fronting the Manchester Ship Canal and the River Mersey. To give you an idea of the scale, Peel have been responsible for The Trafford Centre, MediaCity and Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

He was Chairman of the Organising Committee of the hugely successful Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002 and took the role of Mayor of the Games Village during the event.

He was Chairman of New East Manchester Limited, the urban regeneration company responsible for the physical, social and economic regeneration of disadvantaged areas in that part of the City.

He was first a Board Member and then Chairman of the Northwest Regional Development Agency.

And as Chair, Robert was instrumental in establishing the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, known as the LEP - when it took over the resources of former Mersey Partnership, including its membership structure to drive forward a real step change in economic performance.

The LEPs were established by the Government to bring together businesses and local authorities to drive privatesector led growth and job creation. This is not an easy task and we have been blessed with a man of great personal influence and integrity to lead this first phase of the LEP’s development.

Through its membership model, it is seen as unique among all of England’s 39 LEPs working closely with local authority partners to secure one of the first rounds of Devolution deals from Government, giving powers over areas including skills, business growth and transport, and backed by a £230 million pound Growth Deal secured by the LEP in 2014.

Robert has served as High Sheriff of the County of Greater Manchester and is a Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Greater Manchester.

He has contributed and steered some of the greatest transformational projects in the region. Quietly using his influence to broker deals and partnerships for the greater good and further advancement of the North West. Last year he received a well deserved CBE for his services to business in the North West. 

As he stepped down this summer, he said of his time overseeing the LEP:

“The legacy I hope to leave behind is a strong private and public partnership built on dynamic growth sectors and where the LEP has played an important and cohesive role, as well as delivered on its priorities. I believe that the City Region has made great strides since the LEP was formed and we have witnessed strong growth in our economy providing unparalleled opportunities for the City Region’s businesses and residents and also the wider Northern Powerhouse.”

I am delighted to pay tribute today to Robert, who is here with his wife Pauline and son, Mark. He has been a close associate of mine over many years and a true friend of Liverpool.

Thus it is with great personal pleasure that I present Robert Hough, this most distinguished adopted son of our city, for our highest award, an Honorary Fellowship of Liverpool John Moores University.