POLITICIANS and other dignitaries have backed a call made today by the Telegraph & Argus and other regional newspapers for the next Government to make serious investments in the North to narrow the economic and social gap between the region and the London and South East.

The T&A has signed an open letter to all the political parties asking that whoever forms the next Government should Power Up The North.

The letter calls on Westminster politicians to spell out what they intend to do and how they will work with others to bridge the North-South divide.

POWER UP THE NORTH: Time to turbo-charge the North's economy

And local politicians of every colour and business and religious leaders from the Bradford district and beyond have joined the campaign.

Imran Hussain MP (Lab, Bradford East) said: “I have long called for the Government to increase investment in the North of England, and particularly in Yorkshire and Bradford where we have been badly let down and neglected by years of London centric decisions and spending.

“It’s clear that the next government must address the huge economic imbalances that have seen Bradford left behind, and must invest in better transport infrastructure and new technologies that allow us to take advantage of the expertise of the Science and Media Museum and the university, and unleash the potential of our growing young population.


“Improving educational outcomes is vital for better economic and social balance, so I will be continuing to campaign for better education in Bradford by building upon my success in helping secure a multi-million-pound Northern Schools Strategy and working to secure an extension to its funding to deliver a truly game changing agenda.

“It’s also obvious that we need much greater devolution to a local level, with devolved bodies given real powers to benefit the communities they serve, not used as a smokescreen and scapegoat for centrally imposed government cuts.”

Judith Cummins MP (Lab, Bradford South) commented: “The disparity found in Government spending between Bradford and the North compared with London and the South East is unfair. One of the biggest problems can be found in spending on transport, where London gets £419 more per person than the North.

“Better transport connectivity for Bradford would open up the economic potential for the people and businesses of the city. Bradford is one of the biggest Northern cities, but right now Northern Powerhouse Rail is still not committed to giving us a city-centre station. If we are to get the full economic benefits of high speed rail this is an immediate priority for any government.”

Philip Davies MP (Con, Shipley) said: “Yes, I absolutely support that call. I would particularly like to see much more investment in local and regional transport infrastructure (a Shipley Eastern Bypass would obviously be a good start) and we need to have HS3 with a stop in Bradford city centre instead of the wasteful HS2 which will do more to benefit London than the north.

“I would also like to see tax incentives to encourage inward investment into the North rather than into the overheated South. As Esther McVey has said, the country’s economy is like a plane with two engines and only one is working. We need to make sure both engines are working at full throttle to get the best for the whole country.

“I am happy to do anything I can to help with this campaign, and will continue to work with the four Labour MPs in the district to get the best for the district irrespective of our political differences.”

John Grogan MP (Lab, Keighley) said: “Above all I think in the North we want the power to make decisions on how to spend taxpayers money in our own area. For example Transport for the North brings all the councils together with the Government but unlike Transport for London no actual spending decisions can be made in the region - everything gets referred back to Whitehall.

“The restoration of the Skipton Colne Railway link to provide a new freight and passenger route across the Pennines would be top of my list of projects. I believe an elected Mayor of Yorkshire with a cabinet of council leaders would give us more clout to attract investment and improve skill levels.”

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe (Lab, Windhill and Wrose), Bradford Council leader, said: “A huge game changer for Bradford, West Yorkshire and indeed the North is making sure that Bradford city centre has a through stop on the new Northern Powerhouse Rail with direct connectivity to Leeds and to Manchester. If they do nothing else (and they have done very little) they need to do that.”

Cllr John Penningon (Bingley), leader of the Conservative group, backed the open letter and laid out what he thought any new Government should provide for Bradford and the North

He said: “In order of priority we need a city centre railway station – we’re the fastest-growing city in the UK and we need to get the infrastructure in place.”

He also called for a decision on devolution, particularly the greater Yorkshire version, a drive to clamp down on anti-social behaviour and a resolution to the delayed spending review and reform of the business rates system.

Cllr Jeanette Sunderland (Idle and Thackley), leader of the Lib Dem group on the Council, said: “To rebalance the economy I would like to see significant investment to bring forward sites for employment development such as Gain Lane and the land between Leeds Road and Wakefield Road. For the Leeds Road/Wakefield Road area I would particular target industrial that can re-use materials to ensure Bradford truly becomes a Zero Waste District.

“To encourage social benefit I would like to see the development of a Country Park to encompass the redundant land on the Yorkshire Water site at Esholt and the Councils surrounding green land to make a Country Park served by the rails services along the Aire Valley.

“To make the very best of the heritage buildings I would like the Government to invest in schemes to bring back historic buildings into modern use. This is likely to involve removing the facades building modern buildings and restoring and replacing the facades of buildings where the internal works have been destroyed. Where these can be restored then support companies who will do the restoration works with a new College of Building specific to the restoration of historic and conservation properties, streets and the countryside.”

Nick Garthwaite, President of Bradford Chamber of Commerce, said: “Bradford Chamber of Commerce strongly supports the notion of devolution of powers and funding from Whitehall to those closer to their regional economies. Bringing the Northern region up to the national average will generate significant economic benefit for UK plc and in the process improve livelihoods, create better job prospects for young people, and allow our businesses to reach their full potential.

“The UK remains one of the most centrally-controlled economies in the G7 and, as a consequence, we see an overheating South East and a North which could contribute so much more.”

John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, also backed the initiative. He said: “I endorse today’s unity from the newspapers of the North - and how they’re now using their collective strength to speak up for their readers and communities. There is more that unites us than can ever divide us, and this includes this compelling call for new action by our political leaders to tackle the social and economic inequality that exists here.

“And it means our national leaders answering this very important question - do they want the North to be a region with just a great past, or do they want the North to be a region with a future as bright as any other chapter in its history? For every community, every leader that forgets its memory becomes senile.

“The answer should be obvious. We have the people. We have the expertise. We are one North. We are proud of our diversity. But we need the tools. And we need our leaders in London to look us in the eye and treat us - and respect the North - as equals.

“Our newspapers have highlighted a range of opportunities from industry, skills and training to education, housing and health policy - issues which matter to the 15 million people who live and work in the North. I hope - and pray - that our political leaders show us how they will support the Power Up The North campaign.”

“All of us want a North of England that is empowered; prosperous; fair; forward-looking and competitive in a global marketplace inside which there is enough opportunity for us all to share. There is no fear in love. What are our political leaders afraid of? Love us and help us to flourish. Words! Words! Words! We are sick and tired of words. Please do the right thing.”