THIS is a historic day for Hull after energy giant Siemens ended years of uncertainty by confirming that the resurgent city will now be home to a major offshore wind turbine factory which has the potential to transform East Yorkshire’s economy through the creation of 1,000 new jobs.
The biggest vote of confidence yet in a city that is finally emerging from the economic doldrums, today’s announcement has the potential to eclipse Hull’s uplifting victory in the race to become the 2017 City of Culture – and the success of Hull City’s footballers who are just 90 minutes away from the FA Cup final.
In many respects, these success stories are the result of a change of mindset that began to take place a decade ago when Hull’s leaders decided to stop feeling sorry for themselves and sought to make a lasting difference to a city which had never been given a proper chance to recover from the decline of its fishing industry and the shrinking of Britain’s manufacturing base.
Their convergence is profound. In the past, Hull’s brightest young talents could not wait to leave their home city. Now they want to stay in the area because of their city’s upward trajectory – and the wisdom of those visionary leaders who had the foresight to present such a compelling case to Siemens.
And the timing could not be more significant from Mr Cameron’s perspective. While the Siemens deal will herald a new generation of jobs in an area which has been blighted by above-average unemployment for too long, unfolding events in Ukraine and the Crimea offer conclusive proof that Britain must not become over-reliant on Russia – and the increasingly totalitarian Vladimir Putin – for its future energy supplies.
Like it or not, Britain’s energy needs will have to be met by a variety of sources and offshore wind has much untapped potential to be harnessed. Not only does it have a minimal impact on the environment, but it can have a transformative effect on a city like Hull whose best days now lie ahead.
The extra mile: Buses do need more passengers
GIVEN the significance and importance of the so-called “grey vote”, politicians will be extremely reluctant to call for the end of free bus travel for pensioners prior to the next election. They simply will not want to alienate the significant number of senior citizens who use this service.
Yet Peter Shipp, the chairman and chief executive of Hull-based bus firm EYMS, argues on the opposite page that the current allocation of Government grants to pay for this “perk” is simply not fit for purpose. He challenges Ministers to make more money available.
His call for reform is backed by transport expert Bruce Thompson, who asks whether key public services, like hospitals, should make some of their budgets available to bus operators in order to guarantee the future of those services used by patients to attend appointments.
There is some validity to the intervention of both men. Buses remain a Cinderella service in this country and have not enjoyed the money that is now being invested in Britain’s rail network. Yet their service is far more localised than trains and Ministers need to reflect this in their decision-making.
However, this issue, highlighted by North Yorkshire MP Anne McIntosh who wants wealthier pensioners to pay for bus travel, should not be allowed to revolve around subsidies. There is an alternative – and that is operators being galvanised to persuade more fare-paying passengers to travel by bus.
In short, the onus does still need to be on firms like EYMS to go the extra mile and show why more people should consider the bus to be their primary mode of transport.
Heartbeat’s legacy: Horses for courses in Goathland
THANKS to colourful characters like the lovable rogue Claude Jeremiah Greengrass, horses were always synonymous with the popular police drama series Heartbeat that was set in the North York Moors village of Goathland.
Yet, while many still regret the passing of this TV show that helped keep any North Yorkshire families in touch with their roots, they will be pleased to know that the bridleways in this moorland village are being faithfully restored.
As well as making a “horse and walk” route more accessible to visitors, it is also a reminder that horsepower was the only mode of transport in Goathland, a settlement which dates back to Viking times, before the introduction of the police mopeds which became pivotal to the detective work deployed by officers in Heartbeat.