IT is over over four years since the Northern Powerhouse initiative was announced by George Osborne. In their recent report State of the North 2018, the IPPR North has revealed how little has actually been achieved (The Yorkshire Post, December 5).
The figures are damning: since the inception of the ‘Powerhouse’, spending per head in London has increased by twice as much as spending in the North. Northern productivity is 12.6 per cent lower than the national average; two million working-age people and one million children in the North live in households below the poverty line; and many neighbourhoods with the lowest life expectancy are in Northern cities.
Our congested roads and railways are a national disgrace and our broadband speeds are in the bottom third of the EU – and behind Bulgaria.
For almost 10 years, successive Conservative-led governments have let the North down badly.
We deserve better than this: a national rebalancing plan and some real joined-up thinking.
Out-of-date on agriculture
From: Peter B Knaggs, Station Road, Church Fenton, Tadcaster.
DRAMATIC headlines pronouncing the doom of agriculture by the CPRE illustrates their woeful lack of understanding and outdated information which they wish to peddle to the politicians and general public.
Many of us have been practising no ploughing and straw incorporation to improve soil structure for years. Growing cover crops is also beneficial, but it is neither easy, nor a quick fix, as the vagaries of our climate dictate success or failure. The very thought of creating more pasture land is also doubtful as current thinking says we should cut the number of animals to reduce the CO2 levels.
However politicians and advocates of HS2 have in some parts of Church Fenton solved all our problems at a stroke. Build a railway, and what they don’t cover with track turn into a flood plain. That, coupled with Brexit could finally solve this farm’s “neglectful farming practices” and guarantee Donald J Trump’s entry into the UK with his less scrutinised grains and meat.
Be careful what you wish for.
Long wait for officialdom
From: Mark Burnwood, Carlisle Street, Sheffield.
BENEFITS delays can contribute to homelessness and poverty in Sheffield and across the UK.
On phoning the helpline for Housing Benefit in Sheffield, I was informed that the council is still processing change in circumstances notifications from the beginning of August. This could lead to correspondence being sent to the wrong address if this has not been updated, a boon for any prospective fraudsters.
I have also heard of people allegedly having to wait months for benefits applications for Discretionary Housing Payment and Housing Benefit.
I wondered what measures the council is taking to improve waiting times for processing benefits applications and change of circumstances notifications.
From: J Hemingway, Liversedge.
I WAS interested to read the article by Father Neil McNicholas (The Yorkshire Post, December 3) about unanswered letters sent to various official bodies.
At present I am awaiting replies to 12 letters, all addressed to various parts of HMRC, with delays ranging from 30 weeks to 103 weeks
After only one more week, that will be two years! Even when letters are recorded and signed for upon delivery (per Royal Mail’s records), no response is forthcoming.
Besides the absence of replies, my experiences include the receipt of telephone calls to save the trouble and expense of replying in writing, repeated failure to correct obvious errors in official records and discourtesy in face-to-face behaviour. It seems there is a need to pull some socks up! Does anyone understand that phrase nowadays?
From: Dr John Rayner, North Ferriby.
I AM delighted that Father Neil McNicholas has at last acknowledged (The Yorkshire Post, December 6) that humanity may truly have some influence on climate change.
He accepts that “global warming may well be something we are responsible for and can influence for the better.”
Since global temperature is a fundamental aspect of global climate, he is incorrect to claim that global warming and climate change are “two distinct factors” and “not the same thing.”
In truth, the two are intricately intertwined, even two aspects of exactly the same thing!
From: John G Davies, Alma Terrace, East Morton, Keighley.
SIR BERNARD Ingham takes a pot-shot at a wide range of people from chief constables, the Bank of England and the Treasury through economists to the NHS, feminists and the LGBT community calling them all “nincompoops” (The Yorkshire Post, December 5).
Is this a case of “they’re all out of step, except our Bernard” or simply “pot calling kettle”?
Art in a state
From: David Schofield, Highfield Drive, Garforth.
ALTHOUGH I would not describe myself as an art expert, like most people, I do enjoy looking at what I call “proper pictures”.
However, after reading your article regarding the 2018 Turner Prize (The Yorkshire Post, December 5), I see we are back to the trendy left-wing, know it all brigade.