YP Comment: A symbol of the region’s revival

Trinity Leeds reflects the economic recovery across Yorkshire.
Trinity Leeds reflects the economic recovery across Yorkshire.
Have your say

WHAT recession? The record number of last-minute Christmas bargain-hunters flocking to shopping centres contrasts with those depressing festive periods which were dominated by the closure of iconic retailers.

WHAT recession? The record number of last-minute Christmas bargain-hunters flocking to shopping centres contrasts with those depressing festive periods which were dominated by the closure of iconic retailers.

It is why Trinity Leeds is emblematic of Yorkshire’s recovery. This is a retail complex which had to be put on hold when the banks and economy imploded with costly repercussions for consumer confidence.

However, since opening its doors in March 2013, it has become a symbol of the resurgence being enjoyed by Leeds and the rest of Yorkshire as more families benefit from the sustained fall in unemployment.

Yet, while the shopping frenzy will be regarded as a vote of confidence in George Osborne’s economic strategy as he reconfigures the public finances and reduces Britain’s debt burden, the latest GDP figures offer a salutary warning that the recovery is still in its infancy – even though the UK was the fastest growing economy in the G7 last year.

With the Office of National Statistics announcing – unexpectedly – that levels of growth were less than forecast between April and October, it leaves the Chancellor with very little room for manoeuvre when it comes to honouring his budget forecasts. If this trend continues in 2016, it increases the likelihood of further spending cuts – and tax increases – at the time when Mr Osborne will be hoping to cement his position as David Cameron’s successor.

This “double whammy” could be avoided if Mr Osborne can turn his Northern Powerhouse rhetoric into reality. For, with growth here still lagging behind the rest of the UK, the untapped potential is immense if the Treasury – and local council leaders – can finally agree a devolution plan which empowers the whole county. If they do find common ground, this region will look forward to 2016 with even more optimism.

The last post? Post Office’s hypocrisy in Helmsley

THE pride was palpable when Helmsley won national recognition last month in a competition, sponsored by the Post Office, to identify the best High Streets in Britain. This is a market town which has worked tirelessly to retain its individual identity at a time when others are becoming increasingly bland because of the gradual demise of local traders and essential services.

How ironic that the Post Office has unveiled plans to close its branch in Helmsley and move the service to a nearby supermarket. Although the Post Office has provided some reassurances, not least over opening hours, these do not appear to satisfy some of the more vociferous residents and business leaders who think this makes a complete mockery of the organisation’s commitment to such towns, the very reason that it sponsored the prestigious competition in question.

They also point out that the Post Office was supposed to provide a safe, and viable, alternative to customers when HSBC and NatWest banks closed their branches in the town – and that this has proved invaluable to the many visitors who flock to the North York Moors each year. After all, this area is not blessed by the best of public transport for those who do depend on local services.

In the meantime, the people of Helmsley would be best advised to show the spirit which led to their High Street being named the best in Britain. Thankfully, this is a town which does not accept such decisions without a fight; local residents now need to expose the sheer hypocrisy of the Post Office while making a compelling case for the retention of the current level of service.

The people’s county: Yorkshire’s community champions

AS THe Yorkshire Post salutes its champions, community heroes and courageous individuals who have made their mark on 2015, their example shows us why it is the people who make this county so special.

This community spirit, coupled with a stubborn refusal to yield to adversity, goes to the very heart of Yorkshire’s DNA and explains why this region has a hard-earned global reputation for excellence and endeavour.

It has also been exemplified by all those professionals, backed up by a small army of volunteers, who are working tirelessly to ensure that the frail, vulnerable and unwell are not forgotten this Christmas.

At a time when the country can become over-obsessed with celebrities, some more dubious in character than others, it is these people, leading by example, who are now role models to the young. Without them, this county, and country, would be a much poorer place. Happy Christmas to one and all.