Leaving Bradford out of Northern Powerhouse Rail would let the North down - Mark Casci

Next Stop Bradford
Next Stop Bradford
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“It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) that those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed,” wrote Charles Darwin in the 19th century.

This valuable lesson in the need for greater collaboration and cooperation has never been more acute and for proof of this we need only look to our own region.

Bradford City Hall

Bradford City Hall

One of the greatest strengths Yorkshire has currently is its willingness to work together.

Read more: All today's Yorkshire business news
I write this column after reading through the fantastic work done by property companies across the whole region to help refurbish Springwater school in Harrogate.

Thanks to a raft of leading firms hundreds of children will have their educational needs met for generations to come, literally a life-changing intervention.

This is not an isolated incident.

Jake Berry

Jake Berry

One need only look at how the business community of East Yorkshire rallied to support the City of Culture bid in Hull, or the fantastic work done between so many organisations in South Yorkshire to help build the AMRC into the titan it is today.

And, as the UCI World Championships wind down after two hugely successful weeks in the region, we have once again served as witnesses to just how much we can achieve when we work together.

One of the greatest examples of this attitude in action has surrounded the critical need for revamping our transport infrastructure.

When Northern Powerhouse Rail, or HS3, as it was initially known, was first mooted, local leaders quickly realised that high speed rail between Leeds and Manchester would be a far greater offering to the North’s economy if it included a station in Bradford.

They realised that including one of the North’s key cities on the route had the capacity to be transformational for the whole country.

It would bring the journey time between Bradford and Leeds to just seven minutes, with the route the other way to Manchester to come down to just 20.

And then there’s the financial boost. Research by GENECON estimated that the station would add 15,000 new jobs to the region and bolster the North’s economy by up to £15bn by 2060.
Sadly, this strong business case seems to have eluded Government.

Read more: Bradford may not be included on Northern Powerhouse Rail route
It has been hugely encouraging to see that the new Tory administration under Boris Johnson has committed itself to Northern Powerhouse Rail.

The cynic in me may look at the high probability of a general election in the near future and draw something a correlation between the two but nonetheless we should get behind any backing to the scheme. But it must include Bradford.

This weekend saw Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry again back the scheme but pour cold water on a Bradford station.
Mr Berry said if the Government agreed to proposals by Manchester leaders for an underground station at the city’s Piccadilly station it would mean “we have to find £6bn that we won’t spend somewhere else”. Instead he suggested a cheaper option of a parkway station to link the city into NPR.

The likes of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority have a very strong track record in recent years of delivering in spades for the region, with inward investment announcements occurring with pleasing frequency.

Similarly, the Northern Powerhouse Partnership group has shown firm support to the scheme to make sure Bradford is linked into the scheme.

Now is the time for us all to get behind these organisations.

Business leaders have so much to gain from this. Bradford is one of the youngest and most diverse cities in Europe. Its citizens deserve to share in this revolutionary scheme and all the opportunities it offers for improved social mobility.

Mr Berry is by far the best occupant of the Northern Powerhouse Minister’s office since it was created. We must redouble our efforts and make the case to him and his Cabinet colleagues that Bradford should be a key part of this project.