In the driving seat

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NOW BACK to reality, where the momentum created by the Grand Départ is, thankfully, spilling over into the political arena and the growing realisation that the North – and Yorkshire in particular – needs to be put in the driving seat when it comes to engineering a new era of prosperity.

This is illustrated by the Government’s commitment today to provide £1bn to kickstart a number of ‘growth deals’ across the region. Beneficiaries include long-overdue transport improvements in Leeds; funding for skills training so Hull and East Yorkshire can exploit the Humber’s green energy revolution; a new academy in South Yorkshire to support the glass industry and support for a business park in York.

These are all schemes that will help Yorkshire to attract more private industry and enterprise in the future – the most critical component of any recovery. David Cameron’s pronouncements also re-inforce Chancellor George Osborne’s game-changing speech when he promised to transform the North into an “economic powerhouse”.

Yet, while Mr Cameron is right to empower the North so it can enjoy the autonomy already afforded to Scotland and Wales, today’s schemes would not be possible without the Treasury being prepared to release the funds in question.

The challenge is making sure that this process continues after the next election – and that this region has the necessary structures in place so that this money is spent effectively and efficiently.