Boris Johnson’s first Northern Powerhouse test is flood defences – The Yorkshire Post says

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.

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Public anger was discernible when Boris Johnson visited flooding victims nearly a week after the first homes were destroyed. What lessons can be learned?

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.

An aerial picture of Fishlake at the height of last month's floods.

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.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks with Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry (L) and Damian Allen, Chief Executive Officer at Doncaster Council (R) during a visit to Doncaster Market in September before the floods - and general election.

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.