The Yorkshire Post says: Coalfield communities deserve brighter future

There are few places in the country more aware than Yorkshire of the impact of the decline of the coalfields on those left living in former mining towns and villages which have been stripped of their once-thriving industries.

Andy Lock of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust
Andy Lock of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust

Things have improved from the darkest days in many affected areas over the past 30 years but the fact remains that coalfield communities face ongoing challenges with higher than average levels of unemployment, ill-health and poverty.

The Coalfields Regeneration Trust has put forward a plan to create an investment fund of £40m to bring in much-needed jobs, create new industrial and commercial space and encourage people to take part in healthy activities.

The original idea was for the trust to invest £10m of its own money if it could secure £30m from the Government but it has been told by Westminster that additional money instead must be found from the 14 Local Enterprise Partnerships that cover the relevant parts of the country.

The trust believes such investment would generate £50m of sustainable income in the next 25 years, as well as leaving a priceless legacy in some of the country’s hardest-hit villages and towns. More than 40 cross-party MPs, including 12 from Yorkshire, support the trust’s efforts. If it can deliver on its projections, bring in new businesses and jobs and improve people’s health in the process, this initiative is too good an opportunity to miss.

Decision-makers at LEPs owe it to the rate-payers they serve to seriously consider what support they can provide to a project with the potential to transform lives.