July 27: Yorkshire’s bright future in digital

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THE announcement by Sky that it is to create a new, world-class digital technology hub in Yorkshire is most warmly to be welcomed.

THE announcement by Sky that it is to create a new, world-class digital technology hub in Yorkshire is most warmly to be welcomed.

That it will create 400 skilled jobs in Leeds is excellent news in itself, but equally important is what this investment represents. It is a vote of confidence in Yorkshire’s ability to be in the vanguard of a growing industry that promises to give the region’s economy a major boost for the future.

The digital sector is one of the fastest-growing elements of the economy. In Yorkshire, it is already worth billions and will continue expanding. Yorkshire is ideally placed to take advantage of this growth, with a skilled and well-educated workforce and a first-class group of universities that can establish fruitful and mutually-beneficial relationships with digital industries.

A joined-up approach in which the education system develops a ready supply of talent for the new sector would only add to Yorkshire’s attractiveness as a place to invest and create prosperity.

That such a major international player as Sky has chosen to come here is a signpost that Yorkshire can, and should, aim to position itself as a global hub for digital industries.

Innovation is part of this region’s DNA, and recent years have seen some notable successes in developing new industries that diversify the economic base and forge ahead into the future.

The Advanced Manufacturing Park, in South Yorkshire, is one such success, and the investment by Siemens in Hull to create a world centre of excellence in wind-turbine manufacture is another.

Digital technologies should be the next forward-looking industry for Yorkshire to embrace. The investment by Sky will undoubtedly make other leading companies look towards the region, which should send out the message that it has both the vision and ambition to become a world leader in digital industries.

Class action

Rethink needed on school places

EVERY parent will sympathise with the plight of the Leeds families whose children were denied places at the schools of their choice.

Getting a child into a good school is a priority for parents because it has such far-reaching consequences. It is not overstating the importance of making the right choice to say that it can affect the entire course of a child’s life.

The situation that has arisen in Leeds is likely to be replicated elsewhere in Yorkshire. Put simply, local authorities are running out of places, the principal reason for which is that more children are being born.

In Leeds, the birth rate has risen by 25 per cent in a decade, and the gap between the number of school places required and those available is widening to a worrying degree.

This problem is being aggravated by the last Government’s decision to prohibit local authorities from building new schools in order to increase capacity.

The Government’s reforms were well-meant, and it is a bitter irony that they have produced this unforeseen and unintended consequence.

The reforms were designed to encourage greater choice for parents by making it easier to establish independent free schools. In fact, the effect as experienced by the Leeds parents has been to diminish choice.

This is an anomaly that must be addressed in talks between the Government and local authorities, which need the flexibility to accommodate growing numbers of children whose parents should not have to suffer anxiety over finding a good school.

Time to resign

Lord Sewel must go now

THE position of Lord Sewel, mired in sordid allegations of drug-taking and cavorting with prostitutes, is completely untenable.

If he is to salvage anything of his reputation, his only course is to retire from the House of Lords swiftly, rather than refusing to go, even under pressure from Labour, his own party, and in the face of condemnation from his fellow peers.

The public would rightly be outraged if Lord Sewel remained and continued to claim a £300-a-day allowance whilst a protracted inquiry into the allegations against him dragged on.

Any political career would be fatally damaged by allegations of this nature. That Lord Sewel played a prominent role in maintaining standards in public life only makes matters worse, leaving him open to the charge of gross hypocrisy.

There is no way back for him. For his own sake, and that of his party, he should go, and go now.