DAVID Cameron has insisted his Government is delivering on its “northern powerhouse” promise as Labour accused the Conservatives of failing to live up to their General Election promises.
The Government said the northern powerhouse was a long term plan but progress was already being made in Yorkshire a year after the region played a key role in the Conservatives’ surprise General Election victory.
But Labour hit back, maintaining the Conservatives have “badly let down” Yorkshire on their promises to Yorkshire in their first 12 months in office.
The Yorkshire Post today publishes an analysis of the pledges the Conservatives made ahead of last year’s General Election and the progress made after a year in Government.
Yorkshire was critical to the General Election result as voters in a string of marginal seats kept Conservative MPs in office and delivered a shock win for the Tories in Morley and Outwood as Labour Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls was replaced by the Conservatives’ Andrea Jenkyns.
Since the election, the Government has set out plans to improve trans-Pennine transport links, developed ambitious plans for Leeds station, struck a devolution deal with South Yorkshire, kickstarted the landmark York Central project, backed Hull’s City of Culture preparations and promised to showcase the North through a “Great Exhibition”.
But it has also had to defend its spending on flood defences after the devastating Boxing Day storms, announce delays to rail electrification and the scrapping of the Leeds trolleybus scheme, closed a Government office in Sheffield and has come under pressure over its handling of the crisis facing the steel industry.
Prime Minister David Cameron told The Yorkshire Post: “We’ve said yes to further work on the HS3 between Leeds and Manchester. Yes to improve connectivity between Northern cities. We’ve said yes to Highways England to improvements on the M62 and £75m on options such as a trans-Pennine tunnel.
“If you take the Leeds trolleybus, there was a planning inspector’s report came to the conclusion that the disadvantages were greater than the advantages and the Government accepted that. The money is still there, the £170m for proposals that can make a difference in Leeds.
“As for electrification as I’ve said in the House of Commons the commitment is there, the money is there and we want to move as rapidly as we can.
“I’m very confident that we will deliver on the powerhouse agenda, not least with HS2.”
But Labour has claimed Yorkshire voters are increasingly sceptical over whether the ‘northern powerhouse’ vision will ever be delivered.
Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves said: “Before the election, David Cameron and George Osborne made frequent visits and came armed with a long list of pledges for the region.
“Since then, they have retreated back to London and badly let down people across Yorkshire and the Humber.
“It’s time the Government showed its pre-election pledges were more than just hollow gimmicks that have betrayed the people they claim to serve.”