IT is ironic that the Don Valley is now represented by a Conservative MP for the first time since 1955 after Boris Johnson’s unsatisfactory response to the floods at the start of the election.
Yet, while longstanding MP Caroline Flint’s defeat was indicative of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s inadequacies, it is also an early test of the PM’s commitment to the Northern Powerhouse.
And this explains why today’s Queen’s Speech – and the planned post-Brexit Budget – are once-in-a-generation opportunities to reshape the Government to ensure that Whitehall finally delivers for Yorkshire and the North.
The Northern Powerhouse Minister – currently Jake Berry – shouldn’t be a bit-part player in the Cabinet. His role should have senior status, with dedicated question time sessions in the Commons every month, if regional inequality, a national issue, is to be finally tackled.
This would also leave Mr Berry better placed to co-ordinate policy, and the delivery of the PM’s promises, rather than Whitehall ministries – and quangos like the Environment Agency – operating in isolation.
And flood defences are a case in point. If major centres of population and industry are not properly protected, the damage to the wider economy – as this region already knows – can be huge.
This is why The Yorkshire Post backs today’s call for action today from the IPPR North think-tank and also calls for a review of funding to ensure that Yorkshire is not missing out – the Government still owes the people of Leeds £25m.
As well as all new buildings being flood-proofed from the outset, a change of emphasis is needed so river catchment areas are considered in their entirety when new schemes are drawn up.
After all, it is counter-productive to protect one area, like Sheffield, and effectively move the threat downstream – as the people of Don Valley are now discovering to their cost.