THESE are good times for Yorkshire and the North.
Unemployment is low and falling. Education standards are rising. Exports are growing. More than ever we have the potential to be a magnet for inward investment from around the world. Far from Brexit bringing uncertainties, Britain remains the most popular destination in Europe for inward investment, and the North deserves a big share of that.
But time and again we hear the Labour leaders of Northern councils talk of counties and cities that are being left behind and ignored by the Government. It’s just not true, and it does this great county and the North of England as a whole a huge disservice.
You might think that all the transport investment is going to the South, and that the North is lucky to get more than a handful of crumbs from the table. It’s nonsense. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the things that are happening right now.
Every train in the North, on both the Northern and TransPennine Express franchises, is being replaced, either with a brand new train or one that is rebuilt as brand new.
There are also brand new Intercity Express trains being built right now in County Durham to take over from the elderly ones currently operating on the East Coast Main Line.
That line, as the Government announced this week, will get a £780m upgrade starting at Christmas, which will reduce journey times, mean there are more trains running – and more services to places like Bradford, Huddersfield and Shipley.
The railway line from York to Manchester gets a £3bn upgrade starting next year, meaning more trains and shorter journey times. It will be the biggest rail project, apart from HS2, anywhere in the country in the next few years.
Work has already been finished on the upgrade of the line from Liverpool to Manchester, and Liverpool Lime Street station is currently being rebuilt so it can take more trains.
The trouble on Northern trains this summer – which has clearly been shambolic and unacceptable by anyone’s standards – was primarily caused by the late running of another big investment project between Manchester and Blackpool.
Then there’s the investment in the roads. The final leg of motorway between London and Newcastle opened in May. The Smart motorway programme is increasing capacity on the M60 and the M62. The A1 is being dualled north of Newcastle. The dualling of the A66 is due to get under way again shortly.
This is not a Government that’s ignoring the North. But you’d never believe it if you listen to the Labour party and the newspapers who can appear on occasion to act as their mouthpiece.
They always complain about Crossrail in London, while forgetting that London businesses are paying more than half the cost. The total transport investment in the North is much bigger than Crossrail, and the official Government figures show that transport spending per capita is more in the North than the South at the moment.
Why don’t The Yorkshire Post, and other papers here, start talking up the North and not talking it down? Brand new trains, better roads, more money for transport in cities. Things that have opened already. Things that are being built right now. A huge amount to come in the next five years. Unfortunately transport infrastructure cannot manifest itself overnight – but this Government is putting in the money now to deliver it for the future.
What’s not to like about that? What’s not to talk positively about? Why not tell all those potential investors that our transport system is in the throes of the biggest investment programme since the days of steam trains and the Ford Anglia?
It’s time that we in Yorkshire started talking positively about new trains, shorter journey times and the extra investment. So to Labour, and the team at The Yorkshire Post, I say this. Stop talking my constituency and all those around it down, and let’s talk up our economy, talk up the overdue investment in our transport infrastructure that is now taking place and get a bigger slice of that inward investment into the UK.
Philip Davies is the Conservative MP for Shipley. He submitted a letter of no confidence in Theresa May last week.