From: Coun Peter McBride, Princess Street, Huddersfield.
CAN I congratulate the Yorkshire Post for championing the cause of Yorkshire in recent weeks. Your efforts are most welcome on two counts – you are providing a range of data which tell the public the scale of the neglect of this part of the world by the Government and you are gathering together a lobbying force in local government, Parliament and the business world to demand a fairer deal for this part of the North.
I would take issue only with one fact of the campaign, ie expressing the disparities in terms of North versus South. If we are to win this battle we need to persuade a Cabinet dominated by people representing southern constituencies and to remember that the vast majority of the English electorate live in the south of England and, of course, Whitehall, the Bank of England and Westminster are in London.
I think we should draw attention to the fact that the northern and southern economies are in a sense mirror images of one another. The South has major problems of overheating, such as traffic congestion, a land shortage which drives prices up and precious green areas lost. In addition there is a major skills shortage damaging major economic growth points.
In the North we have our own congestion but this can be remedied far more cheaply. We, of course, jealously guard our green belt and green urban areas, but we do have the capacity to expand industrially and commercially. We also have skill shortages but not on the same scale and could train or retrain a workforce sufficiently if needed.
In short we have much under-used capacity which, if exploited, would be a boost to the economy and at the same time offset the pressure on southern infrastructure.
The city regions of Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester contain, within a relatively small area, more than half of Britain’s manufacturing capacity and financial services. Indeed, the capacity is in Yorkshire and we should plead with Government – we are not in a position to demand – to give us an opportunity to exploit our resources to the full and in the process offset one of the greatest disparities in our social structure.
From: Don Burslam, Elm Road, Dewsbury Moor, Dewsbury.
I ALWAYS read Tom Richmond with interest (Yorkshire Post, July 16) but his suggestion of a Minister for Yorkshire would do no good. We have been here before with Ministers for this, that and the other. The only out and out success was Dennis Howell, the Minister for the Drought, who made it rain. The various Ministers of War have done quite well though as there never seems to be any shortages of those.
Mr Richmond compares the preferential treatment Scotland and Wales apparently receive but the analogy is a false one. In these cases there is political and historical baggage and Yorkshire has no leverage in this respect.
I am afraid there is no magic bullet for our problems. I do think though that some positive discrimination, as in ethnic and gender issues, should be extended to our region. We have lost our traditional heavy industries and we are a lot further away from the Continent, which is an inherent disadvantage. There is also the transport deficit.
I am not an expert on the notoriously complicated system of grants for the regions and few can calculate whether we get a fair deal or not. I imagine the obscurity of the system suits the politicians very well as I suspect we should be getting more than we are. After all, we all pay the same taxes pro rata wherever we live. It is about time we had some transparency – the current buzz word – on who gets what. The unemployment figures, especially for the young, spell out a clear message.