ON Yorkshire Day, this newspaper brought together business and political leaders from across the county to write an open letter to me, setting out plans to make Yorkshire stronger. I share that vision, and the Government will do everything it can to help this remarkable county achieve its full potential.
For too long, the United Kingdom has been much too dependent on growth in London. The Government I lead will instead build a country that works for every one of us, in every part of the UK – not just the privileged few.
Yorkshire is a key part of our vision for a Northern Powerhouse – our plan to help the great cities and towns of the North pool their strengths and take on the world. Here is how we are going to make that plan happen.
Firstly, we will make massive improvements to transport, making it easier to get around, and more attractive for business to move here. That means major investments to transform key roads like the M62, the M1 and A1. It means developing high speed rail – not just from north to south but also from east to west. But it also means improvements right across Yorkshire, including new trains, and investments such as the new railway stations at Kirkstall Forge and Apperley Bridge.
In total we’re making a record £13bn investment in transport across the North.
Secondly, we will get behind Yorkshire’s innovators and entrepreneurs. Yorkshire’s ground-breaking inventions of the past include stainless steel and cat’s eyes on the roads. Today, we are supporting quantum computing research at York and enhancing the new Royce Institute for Advanced Materials at the universities of Leeds and Sheffield. We’re backing Siemens’ massive investment in renewables by creating an Enterprise Zone in Hull and the Humber. And we are funding incubator space for tech start-ups in Sheffield and Leeds.
As we leave the EU, the British government will underwrite science investments made by EU institutions, so that key investments in Yorkshire – like EU funding for advanced materials in Rotherham – are not disrupted.
And to help us realise the benefits, the Government will now develop a proper industrial strategy to back Yorkshire’s strengths, whether it is financial and health technology in Leeds, advanced manufacturing in South Yorkshire, or innovative new textiles in West Yorkshire.
But Yorkshire doesn’t just have industrial strengths – it is also naturally and architecturally beautiful. It has the stunning landscapes of the Dales, the North York Moors and the East Riding. That’s why we are backing rural tourism and events like the Yorkshire Festival.
Yorkshire’s beauty was brilliantly shown off to the world by cycling events like the Tour de France and the fantastic Tour de Yorkshire, led by Sir Gary Verity.
So today I can announce that we have backed a Yorkshire-led bid to bring cycling’s World Road Championships to Britain. This week, British Cycling’s bid to hold the event in Yorkshire was delivered to the sport’s governing body, the UCI. The Government will underwrite the event and back it with £24m of investment so that we can get even more people to visit the region. Our backing will include £15m for cycling infrastructure projects, to encourage even greater participation in the sport and continue the proud legacy that has seen our athletes excel at the Rio Games.
But crucially, we will underline all this by devolving real power to people in Yorkshire. The population of this region is more than five million but until recently there has been no devolution of power to Yorkshire people. Now we’re changing that. We’ve started with a major devolution deal for Sheffield City Region, and their new mayor will be elected next May, giving people there a powerful new voice. I want the Government to work with people here to bring the benefits of devolution to other parts of Yorkshire too.
There is no doubt that Yorkshire is on the rise. Compared to 2010, there are now 137,000 more jobs here and 50,000 more small businesses. There are big investments happening across the county. Across the North as a whole, inward investment has rocketed by 127 per cent in the last two years alone. That’s even faster than in London and the South, and shows how international investors increasingly recognise the North’s strengths.
But there is much more to do – and together with people in Yorkshire, this Government will take the next steps to drive this county forward.