FOR too long, policy progress across the North has been stalled because the main parties put tit-for-tat pointscoring before the wider public interest.
It is why the Power Up The North campaign, launched 100 days ago by The Yorkshire Post and 30 rival newspapers, was a direct challenge to all political leaders to put policies in place to reverse the North-South divide.
Its impact can be measured by the fact that this region’s future economic interests are, despite Brexit, on the national agenda and that Boris Johnson did appoint a Northern Powerhouse Minister to his Cabinet – Jake Berry must now assert himself in this role.
Equally, it is only right to acknowledge the new policy prospectus for small towns which West Yorkshire MP Yvette Cooper, amongst others, will unveil at the Labour conference.
As well as restating the case for transport investment in the North, the Labour Towns Group proposes a bespoke industrial strategy for the retail sector to help struggling high streets; new initiatives to boost culture and a scheme to enhance academic attainment.
Called the Coalfield Challenge, the objective is to replicate the successful London Challenge where unprecedented investment saw the capital’s schools rise from the bottom of national league tables to the very top.
Just think of the potential here if former mining areas had comparable support – even though it is years, if not decades, since the last pits closed.
But while the launch of the policy pamphlet is important, Ms Cooper must convince her party, and the Government, to advance this agenda now.
For, while Britain has never faced greater political uncertainty, the challenges facing towns will still be the same after Brexit and the next election.
What people want is tangible progress on the ground – and co-operation between the main parties. For the longer such issues fester, the harder they become to redress.