THE Government’s new “Council for the North” may not have grabbed the headlines, but it could be significant for our region.
Made up of chairs from the 11 Local Enterprise Partnerships – the “NP11” – this group will give new voice to the economic needs of the North in Westminster.
It’s encouraging to see that Leeds City Region’s Roger Marsh will chair the group. Roger steered the City Region’s presence at international property conference MIPIM and has played a key role in the bid to bring Channel 4 to Leeds.
The NP11’s purpose includes advising central government on how to overcome regional disparities in economic growth.
This is surely the most crucial objective for Yorkshire. Our region includes areas with among the lowest GDP per person in Europe. The message our local representatives need to take to the centre of power is that investment in housing and infrastructure is the way to rebalance the North’s economy.
In turn, this will also improve the quality of life for people in the region. And this message will resonate even louder if all of the 11 representatives are making the same case.
Better connectivity leads to reduced commuting times, increased productivity, and investment from new businesses. Housing growth is also an economic stimulator.
We must make sure our regional representatives in the NP11 are equipped with a strong, unified position on this. Without it, the Northern Powerhouse will run out of fuel.
Migration and housing need
From: John Riseley, Harcourt Drive, Harrogate.
WE are promised more ‘affordable’ or ‘social’ housing.
Since most houses are already lived in by people who can afford them and who are members of society, we may suspect that these terms are euphemisms for subsidised housing, funded by public debt.
But who, if not the public, should meet this need? The number of people in work but unable to afford decent homes has risen, not entirely coincidentally, as the population has increased through massive net immigration. Employers have effectively invited millions to settle here because they can turn bigger profits by using more workers, provided that someone else will meet much of the cost of this labour.
Businesses decide where to locate and expand. They must accept the costs arising from this. We should replace or supplement the minimum wage with a minimum housing standard for employees.
Firms will no doubt warn of the threat to jobs. But job creation, unconstrained by responsibility for workers’ needs and fed through porous borders, leads inevitably to a housing problem which public charity cannot keep pace with.
Vital to learn languages
From: Lorna Macdonald, Holmfirth.
RE Home Secretary’s Sajid Javid speech on citizenship and language (The Yorkshire Post, October 30) and the subsequent letter from Canon Michael Storey, I am in agreement.
My husband worked overseas for three three-year terms from 1952 to 1962.
When he arrived for his first term he had a tutor two or three times a week, and was given six months to learn colloquial Hindi.
Only then would he have been given married quarters so that I could follow, or had his contract terminated.
I was not as proficient as he by a long chalk, but was able to converse with our household staff and in the village shops.
When my two sons came along they put me to shame and, at two years of age, could speak three languages fluently as well as their own – Hindi, Bengali and Nepalese, as we had the wonderful Gurkhas in charge of our personal safety.
Library is under threat
From: Frankie Farfield, Bawtry Road, Sheffield.
THE current blueprint for Sheffield city centre seeks to deprive us of one of the city’s much-loved buildings with the plans to relocate the central library.
I visit this building many times each week and I am always taken aback by the way the staff are always providing such a professional service, despite the hated and despised library self- service, the deplorable Labour policy of volunteer libraries and politicians constantly talking down the importance of Sheffield’s library service.
A gold medal to all the library staff. To our councillors, you need to rethink your awful plans.
Did we gain from Olympics?
From: Coun Tim Mickleburgh (Lab), Grimsby.
I HAVE my doubts as to whether the 2012 Olympics had a lasting legacy on tourism, especially away from London (The Yorkshire Post, October 9).
I recall when monarchists made a great thing about the Silver Jubilee attracting a record number of visitors to the UK back in 1977. Then, a year later, even more came to the UK!
To me the person who gained most from the games was Lord Coe with his fat six-figure salary!
Solar panels for all homes
From: Jarvis Browning, Main Street, Fadmoor, York.
RE climate change, every house should have solar panels fitted as this would go a long way to making greener power production. If that happens, then we’re all doing our little bit towards a cleaner world.