YP Comment: The North needs a Cabinet voice

Northern Powerhouse Minister Andrew Percy at the UK Northern Powerhouse conference
Northern Powerhouse Minister Andrew Percy at the UK Northern Powerhouse conference
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EXACTLY one month ago, Northern Powerhouse Minister Andrew Percy took it upon himself to veto a Yorkshire-wide devolution deal and challenged each city-region here to come up with their own leadership structure.

Now the Brigg and Goole MP is saying that the Northern Powerhouse concept is not “owned” by a single party, the implication being that others should be involved. He can’t have it both ways. If he wants a more consensual approach, he’s duty-bound to keep all options open rather than create unnecessary obstacles – the criticism of respected Barnsley backbencher Dan Jarvis and others.

And while the Minister should be credited for wanting to end the disparity in transport spending between London and the North, other far more experienced politicians have made similar commitments in the past that have not come to pass.

There’s clearly the public desire, and political momentum, for an overhaul of this region’s road and rail infrastructure if new jobs and inward investment are to be generated in sufficient quantities.

Parochialism, including Mr Percy’s mixed messages, is not the way forward. All politicians – local, regional and national – need to be more dynamic in their outlook if long-overdue schemes like HS3 are to be advanced. And if Theresa May’s government is truly committed to narrowing the North-South divide, as Ministers suggest, she will task a senior member of the Cabinet with accepting full responsibility for the delivery of the Northern Powerhouse blueprint.

If not, the goodwill enjoyed by the Prime Minister in these parts will soon dissipate.