YP Comment: Pigeon-hole us at your peril - Yorkshire a hub of innovation

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Yorkshire a hub of innovation

Old habits die hard and there are still some people who insist on perpetuating the image of Yorkshire as a land of flat caps and whippets. The reality, though, could hardly be more different.

We are blessed to live and work not only in one of the most beautiful places in Europe, but one that is brimming with creativity and cultural diversity. Our universities have become a magnet for some of the brightest young minds, both from this country and abroad, and we are reaping the rewards of their talents.

London and the South East may still hold allure for some people but in this new age of innovation Yorkshire has an important role to play. Which is why the news that 5,000 jobs are expected to be created in Leeds’ booming digital and technology sector is cause for much celebration. In addition to this, new figures released to coincide with the start of this year’s Leeds Digital Festival, expect the city’s digital technology industry to be worth £1bn to the local economy by 2021. This doesn’t just benefit Leeds. There are 70,000 people already working in this sector across the Leeds city region, which includes areas such as Wakefield and Kirklees.

It underlines the importance of being part of this digital revolution because success has a knock-on effect, attracting more world class businesses to the region which bring with them additional well-paid jobs. In the computer games industry, worth more than £2.8bn in the UK, this is already happening with Yorkshire home to 10 per cent of the nation’s games development talent.

The sun may be setting on traditional heavy industries such as coal and steel, but that does not mean we face a grim future. Anything but. For just as Yorkshire was the engine room that powered Britain to greatness during the 19th Century, so it has the chance to become a key player in this brave new digital world. It is an opportunity we should all embrace.

Families in crisis

Spotlight on ‘hidden poverty’

The fact that we are one of the richest countries in the world yet some of our children are being forced to endure “phenomenal” disadvantages, is truly shocking.

What makes this even more distressing is the fact that Yorkshire has the highest number of families and young people “in crisis” in the country, according to a new report by the charity Buttle UK.

The charity, which supports children and young people, has handed out more than 11,000 emergency grants to vulnerable families across Sheffield, Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees and Wakefield over the last 10 years, with four out of the 10 areas in the country receiving the most help being in Yorkshire.

Its report also points to the East Riding as a “hidden poverty” blackspot, where despite high levels of deprivation relatively few people are seeking help, leaving families grappling with unseen child poverty.

On top of that it says some people in Yorkshire lack basic necessities such as beds, washing machines and children’s clothing. This may not equate to the Dickensian squalor witnessed 150 years ago, but in Britain in the 21st Century no one should be experiencing such hardship.

While it pinpoints the breakdown of family life as one of the main reasons behind these problems, this report is also a timely reminder of the gaping chasm between those at the top and bottom of society in this country.

We know that further public sector cuts lie ahead but when the Chancellor talks, as he did in the House of Commons last month, about a Budget for “the next generation”, then none should be excluded.

Marathon success

Millionth runner crosses the line

Ever since it was first held 35 years ago, the London Marathon has been a popular fixture on our sporting calendar – a chance to celebrate the great human spirit.

It is always a special event and yesterday’s race, which saw over 39,000 hardy souls pound the capital’s streets, reached an astonishing landmark when the one millionth competitor crossed the finish line.

There were the usual elite runners from around the world and a host of celebrities running for various good causes, but it is the ordinary men and women pushing through the pain barrier, and the crowds that cheer them on, who make this such a special occasion.

All those who take part in this great human festival are an inspiration. None more so than Iva Barr, who, at 88, was the oldest competitor and running her 20th London Marathon, raising money for disabled young people’s charity Whizz-Kidz. Now there is an inspiring figure if ever there was one.