YP Comment: PM's commitment to Yorkshire. May makes her case

THERESA May deserves credit for providing a detailed response to this newspaper's open letter, published on Yorkshire Day, setting out the most pressing challenges facing this region '“ and her new administration. Contrast this with the length of time it took her predecessor David Cameron to reply to concerns about flooding policy earlier this year.

Theresa May has set out a vision for the North.

It’s also encouraging that the new Prime Minister has found time, so early into her premiership, to bring herself up to speed with the key issues – whether it be Brexit, transport or devolution – and how they will play out in the coming months and years. She clearly anticipates Brigg and Goole MP Andrew Percy, the newly-appointed Northern Powerhouse Minister, playing a key role in the corridors of power.

However, as Mrs May attempts to put clear blue water between herself and her predecessor, it is important that her Ministers and officials pay far greater heed to the interests of the North when taking key decisions. The very reason that the credibility of the Northern Powerhouse was called into question was because the Government had also decided to shut down the Sheffield regional office of the former Department of Business, Industry and Skills. A more astute administration would have been asking whether the necessary cost efficiencies could have been achieved by moving more civil servants from the capital to regions like Yorkshire to ensure that the North’s interests are not marginalised by the London-centric approach to policy-making which has prevailed for too long.

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As Mrs May begins to make her mark by backing Welcome to Yorkshire’s bid to bring cycling’s world road championships to this region in a bid to boost tourism still further, we hope these initial sound intentions are delivered in full so this county, and its people, can realise their true potential and make an even greater contribution to the future success of Great Britain plc.

Making the grade: 2016 university challenge

NOTHING should detract, on today of all days, from the A-level results accrued by all those students across Yorkshire whose grades have either matched, or exceeded, their expectations. As many prepare to make the successful transition from sixth form to university, 
let’s hope that these successes are not overshadowed by the perennial political debate about whether exams have been ‘dumbed down’ or not.

After all, it is counter-productive to denigrate the efforts of those young people who recognise the importance of skills – whether it be academic qualifications or simply communicating with people face-to-face – and who have worked tirelessly to ensure that they have every chance of prospering in a 21st century global economy made even more competitive by the advent of digital technology.

Yet it’s also important to remember those who, for whatever reason, will not be going to university. They, too, need to be encouraged to enhance their skills – whether it be at college or via the new generation of apprenticeships which are helping to transform on-the-job training opportunities.

The worry is that the relentless focus on exam grades, and the desire of successive governments for more students to get the chance to go to university, has come at the expense of the college sector, hence the work that Tory grandee Ken Baker is doing to promote university technology colleges for 14 to 19-year-olds. Education Secretary in Margaret Thatcher’s era, he’s never stopped learning. And neither should today’s young people if they, too, want to excel in their chosen career.

Sign of the times?

THERE will be some shoppers sympathetic to the City of York Council’s decision to ban A-boards, albeit on a temporary basis, because a proliferation of street signs is making pavements more dangerous for pedestrians and actually detracts from the aesthetic appeal of the Roman city.

Conversely there will be independent traders who will regard the move as another slap in the face from a council still remembered unfondly for the fiasco when Lendal Bridge was closed for a short time, and the resulting furore over the imposition of fixed penalty fines which had to be rescinded.

As such, it’s important that the local authority works with traders – after all York’s future prosperity depends, in part, on the vitality of its historic shopping streets and alleyways. If these buildings suddenly become empty because independent businesses cannot make ends meet, the whole area will be poorer as a result.