Pride in Yorkshire is not confined to a single day of the year but today, Yorkshire Day, is an opportunity for everyone in this part of the world to take a moment to celebrate all that is great about our fantastic region. This year will be no different.
However, at a moment of considerable change, this Yorkshire Day also provides an opportunity to take stock of where we are as a region and what steps we need to take for the future.
Yorkshire voters backed Brexit and, as you have clearly indicated, the result of the referendum must be respected. As that process is taken forward, it is essential that everything possible is done to mitigate the uncertainty that could hamper business and consumer confidence. While there are many issues that can only be resolved through the forthcoming discussions with the EU, your Government is in a position to make commitments and decisions that can offer significant reassurance.
Brexit also provides a new backdrop to the longstanding challenge of closing the economic gap between Yorkshire and the South East. Your commitment to tackle what you described as the “gaping chasm” between London and other parts of the country is welcome and we ask that you now work with the people of Yorkshire to translate that laudable aspiration into concrete actions in six priority areas.
As a starting point, we would like to see a clear and unambiguous promise to continue with the transport projects for this region to which your predecessor was committed. However, with the challenges and opportunities that will come from leaving the EU, there is now a compelling case for going further and faster with this investment to ensure Yorkshire is physically ready for the coming decades.
Despite recent progress, educational outcomes in parts of Yorkshire continue to lag behind other parts of the country and remain the greatest obstacle to growth. Only concerted action to improve exam results and skill levels can ensure that it is local people who benefit from the opportunities we hope will be created in the years ahead.
Long-term support for Yorkshire’s business community and its major strengths such as manufacturing, professional services, digital and the too often overlooked tourism sector is needed to end the region’s dependence on the public sector for employment.
Our farmers and food producers are the best in the world and they need urgent clarity over the way the British Government will support their work once they are no longer within the EU framework.
This region has the potential to be in the vanguard of the green energy revolution but its ambitions have been hampered by inconsistency in government policy, not least the decision to scrap support for the nascent carbon capture and storage industry.
And the case for giving Yorkshire more control over its own affairs - in whatever form that may take - is now more compelling than ever.
The innovative, creative, entrepreneurial and talented Yorkshire people are ready to drive this region forward. They just need to be given the powers and freedom to do so.
On this Yorkshire Day, we ask you to commit to helping this already remarkable county achieve its full potential.
James Mitchinson, Editor, The Yorkshire Post
THIS LETTER HAS THE SUPPORT OF...
Alex Hynes, Managing director, Northern
Andrew Latchmore, Shulmans, Leeds
Andrew Shippey and Maria Robinson, Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital
Andrew Thirkill, Serial entrepreneur and chairman of Age Partnership, Leeds
Andy Wood, on behalf of Grant Thornton
Ben Still, Managing director of West Yorkshire Combined Authority
Chris Pilling, Chief executive officer of Yorkshire Building Society
Chris Durrans, Managing director of James Durrans & Sons, Sheffield
Coun Carl Les, Leader of North Yorkshire County Council
Coun Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council
Coun Peter Box, Leader of Wakefield Council
Coun Tim Swift, Leader of Calderdale Council
Coun Stephen Houghton, Leader of Barnsley Council
Coun Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council
David Kilburn, Chief executive of MKM Building Supplies
David Salkeld, Chief executive of Symingtons, Leeds
Di Burton, Director of Di Burton Limited
Doug Liversidge, South Yorkshire businessman
Dorothy Fairburn, Regional director of the CLA
Drew McGilvray, Managing director of Cater-Clean Solutions, Harrogate
Edward Naylor, Chief executive of Naylor Industries, Barnsley
EEF Yorkshire and Humber
Gary Hetherington, Leeds Rhinos and Yorkshire Carnegie
Hull City Council
Harrison Spinks, Leeds
Jeff Pearey, Head of JLL’s Leeds’ office.
John Habergham, Director of Myton Law, Hull
Jonathan Oxley, Regional chairman of IoD Yorkshire and the Humber
Jonathan Straight, Founder and director Planet Straight
Jonathan Turner, Chief executive of Bayford Group, Wetherby
John Le Corney, Chief executive of Heeley City Farm, Sheffield
Karl Lavery, Manse Capital, Leeds
Laurence McDougall, All Steels Trading, Thirsk
Leeds Building Society
Leeds Bradford Airport
Margaret Wood, Managing director of ICW, Wakefield
Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce
Mike Danby, CEO of Advanced Supply Chain (Bradford)
Mohammed Ali, QED, Bradford
Nigel Pulling, chief executive of Yorkshire Agricultural Society
Perry Uniform, Leeds
Rob Smith, Managing director of Brand8 PR, Leeds
Richard Abbott, Director of Cicada Communications, Harrogate
Richard Harrison, Director of Imagen Group.
Richard Flint, Chief executive of Yorkshire Water
Roger Marsh, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership Chairman.
Shaun Parker, CFO of Tunstall Healthcare Group
Sean Jarvis, Commercial director of Huddersfield Town AFC
Sheffield City Council
Stephen Martin, Group chief executive of Clugston Group
Stephen Wyrill, National chairman of the Tenant Farmers Association
Steve Gill, CEO of Doncaster Sheffield Airport
The Ilkley Brewery Co
Terry Hodgkinson, Business expert and former chairman of Yorkshire Forward
Tim Dewey, Chief executive of Timothy Taylor
Trevor Higgins, CEO of Bradford Breakthrough.