THE latest warning that the UK faces transport gridlock, inadequate broadband connections and ever-worsening air quality unless it tackles the ‘three Cs’ – Congestion, Capacity and Carbon – is another timely warning that Yorkshire cannot allow its devolution differences to fester for much longer without doing lasting economic damage.
Though the National Infrastructure Commission, headed by cross-bench peer Andrew Adonis, puts the onus on the Government to start taking long-term decisions – it cites 13 years of dither over Heathrow’s third runway as being emblematic of indecisive policy-making – it’s significant that its latest report was launched with metro-mayors present. It warns that local leaders have to accept a share of responsibility.
Yet, with this county a notable absentee because of its well-documented differences, this call-to-arms is even more pertinent at the end of a week in which supporters of the One Yorkshire devolution deal found themselves at odds with Jake Berry, the Northern Powerhouse Minister.
As this newspaper continues to stress, devolution policy is integral to Yorkshire’s future prosperity and both the Conservatives and Labour have, to varying degrees, allowed party politics to stand in the way of tangible progress being made.
Given the issue’s importance, it’s very disappointing that less than a third of this region’s 56 MPs attended this week’s debate in Parliament. Furthermore just 16 MPs – 13 Labour and three Conservatives – have, so far, accepted an invitation to meet CBI leaders at Westminster on Tuesday to discuss how Yorkshire can compete domestically and globally.
The no-shows should think again. Not only do they need to be there – the future of their constituents is at stake – but they need to persuade senior Cabinet Ministers to match the ambition and pragmatism of One Yorkshire ‘coalition of the willing’. Another ‘C’: this time standing for Championing Yorkshire. For, the longer the impasse remains, the harder it will become to tackle the infrastructure shortcomings that Lord Adonis highlighted.