Cameron promises to prioritise Yorkshire help offset budget cuts (with video)

DAVID Cameron has promised not to "stand by" and let spending cuts damage Yorkshire's economy, as one of his senior ministers promised "preferential treatment" for the North as the axe is wielded.

In an interview with the Yorkshire Post on the day he made his first major speech as Prime Minister in West Yorkshire, Mr Cameron defended making cuts to "get to grips" with the budget deficit but revealed his Government is specifically looking at how to "offset" the impact outside London and the South-East.

He announced plans to appoint City Ministers to give places like Sheffield, Leeds and Bradford a strong voice in Westminster, and revealed he wants the Humber area to become a world leader in developing green technology.

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Business Secretary Vince Cable, who accompanied the Prime Minister, also said he would ensure four regions including Yorkshire get "preferential treatment" which will spare them from the bulk of the 293m cuts inflicted on regional development agencies (RDAs) this week, while Yorkshire Forward will be able to remain "pretty much in the same form".

But neither man offered an answer on whether steelmaker Sheffield Forgemasters will be allowed to keep an 80m loan which would turn the company into a world leader in manufacturing nuclear components.

Mr Cameron did seek to ease concern over the coalition's plans for high-speed rail though, insisting a link to Leeds is "still the proposal we are championing" amid concern that plans for a direct Yorkshire route may be in danger. His comments will still be viewed with concern by those in South Yorkshire, however, given the previous government had proposed a line through Sheffield as well.

In his speech in Shipley, Mr Cameron vowed to transform the UK's economy so that it is no longer so heavily dependent on the City or the South-East at the expense of manufacturing and the northern regions, and said the next decade should be "the most entrepreneurial and dynamic in our history".

He told the Yorkshire Post there would be more "difficult decisions" ahead after this week's cuts which included axing Child Trust Funds, stripping 1.2bn from councils, raiding RDA budgets and scrapping the job-creating Future Jobs Fund.

However, he sought to ease fears that Yorkshire and northern regions badly hit by previous recessions would be left to fend for themselves by promising special assistance as he pledged to "take the country with us" in making more cuts.

He said: "In fact we think it's very important as we get spending under control the regions are helped, that we find ways of making sure we get a good strong growing private sector in all the regions of our country."

Mr Cameron said he would announce his team of City Ministers within weeks, in place of Labour's regional Ministers.

On high-speed rail he said he was still committed to the Tory manifesto plan for a route from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, although he said later stages would connect other cities.

Meanwhile, asked about RDA cuts Mr Cable said: "I've already made it clear in the cuts taking place the burden of the cuts should fall on the South-East and the east of England, and some regions which include Yorkshire – but also the North West, West Midlands and North East – should have preferential treatment, because we recognise the areas have structural problems and need more attention."

Rosie Winterton, Labour's Shadow Minister for Yorkshire, dismissed Mr Cameron's speech and accused the coalition of "undermining jobs in new industries like advanced manufacturing" by cutting spending.