WHO said there was no life left in the Northern Powerhouse? Even though Theresa May’s now discredited former advisers told the Prime Minister to ditch the initiative, the new-found political momentum will force the Government to think again about its obligations to this region.
Not only has Transport Secretary Chris Grayling’s intervention galvanised political opponents and business leaders – he suggested it was up to this region to sort out decades of under-investment in the railways – but also the need for Yorkshire to start speaking with one voice.
If Mr Grayling’s backtracking over the electrification of two key rail routes makes Yorkshire’s bickering political leaders realise that they do, in fact, have more in common, his intervention might have an unintended consequence.
The Yorkshire Post is proud to have been at the forefront of the transport and devolution debate and will remain centre-stage. After highlighting these issues – and opportunities – for at least a decade, the change in political dynamics is encouraging and the outcome of next week’s meeting between council leaders is awaited with interest. It’s also imperative that this positive momentum is maintained, with the leaders of five councils in West Yorkshire writing a letter in which they argue that Mr Grayling’s maxim – namely the North knows best – is extended to his Ministerial colleagues.
It is certainly true that any devolution deal will require compromise by local, regional and national politicians. Yet, if it’s right for transport to be devolved, as Mr Grayling intimated, the same should apply to other policy-making powers so the West, North and East Ridings can come together under the One Yorkshire umbrella. However there’s one major sticking point – brass. This region will require national support to build a world-class infrastructure worthy of the Northern Powerhouse’s aims. As Newcastle Council’s leader made clear at the Leeds transport summit, Ministers can’t pass the buck without passing the bucks.