IT WOULD be disingenuous to blame this Government alone for the infrastructure shortcomings that have been highlighted by the Institute of Civil Engineers in its annual report into the resilience of Yorkshire’s energy, transport and flooding policies.
This issue transcends successive premierships and it is emblematic of a policy-making process that enables too many short-term political decisions to take precedence over the long-term economic health of the country.
After all, it was Gordon Brown back in 2008 who promised to transform levels of investment in Britain’s creaking infrastructure to help mitigate the impact of the economic meltdown and global banking crisis.
More contemporaneously, it has taken George Osborne four years to become convinced about the merit of a high-speed railway line from Leeds to Manchester. Yet the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s keynote speech on Monday failed to make reference to the cost of the HS3 scheme– or timeframe.
Yet, while the country’s financial constraints are understood and accepted, this should not preclude the Government from looking to maximise partnerships with the private sector – whether it be increasing passenger capacity on the railways or harnessing Yorkshire’s plans to introducing pioneering carbon-capture technology that will assist the county’s energy generating capacity and help to support traditional manufacturing industries.
The importance of this should not be under-estimated. As today’s report makes clear: “Yorkshire and Humber’s 5.3 million people contribute almost £100bn to the UK economy each year. The region contains vital national transport and energy infrastrucutre and two of the most important city regions.” If this statement is not going to capture the attention of Ministers, what will it take?
Dilemma over right to life debate
THERE is enormous sympathy for Paul Lamb, the Leeds man who has lost what could be his last legal attempt for the right to be given help to end his life. Left in constant pain as the result of a road accident nearly a quarter of a century ago, the father-of-two sought a change in the law that would grant him, and others in similar positions, the right to die.
Though naturally disappointed by the Supreme Court judgment against him, he is pleased that his actions have at least ensured renewed debate over this issue. In truth, it is one that refuses to go away – and Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill, which goes before the House of Lords next month, means it will not for some time.
It is understandable that there remains a great deal of reluctance to introduce legislation that might prove open to abuse – the fear of Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, a former Paralympian and now a leading disability rights campaigner. The Liverpool Care Pathway, intended to provide uniform, dignified care for dying patients, has been withdrawn amid complaints that some were put on the pathway without their consent, and that death was hastened in people who were not at imminent risk of dying.
While the right to die debate will go on, the legal battle fought by Mr Lamb at least draws attention to the plight of those forced to endure medical conditions that result in a poor quality of life and highlights the need for a renewed focus on palliative care.
It cannot be right, for instance, that the nation’s hospices are forced to rely so heavily on the benevolence of donors
to continue their invaluable work.
Role models to all
Why teachers must be valued
AS role models, teachers have a far more important role to play than celebrities – or England’s pampered World Cup squad who skulked back into the country yesterday.
Inspiring teachers can transform the lives of the most deprived children for the better, as witnessed in Channel Four’s compelling Educating Yorkshire series.
The vocation’s importance has also been highlighted by the Bank of England boss Andy Haldane – he would have been lost to economics if it was not for his teacher at Guiseley School firing his enthusiasm.
Given this, it is depressing that two-thirds of teachers feel under-valued by society. They should not be. Their role is profoundly important to youngsters of all ages
and abilities fulfilling – and even exceeding – expectations, whether academically or in a sporting context.
Rather than denigrating the profession at every turn, perhaps Education Secretary Michael Gove needs to appreciate the importance of forging an alliance with teachers that enables them to bring out the best in their pupils.