Reflection? What happened to the vision of the Northern Powerhouse?
I've just returned from my annual leave, having spent a few weeks in South West France.
This year I took the Ferry from Portsmouth to Santander in northern Spain, and drove north along the coast and over the Pyrenees into France. The roads are a dream to drive, not crowded and well maintained, and the scenic views of the Spanish coast spectacular.
The Ferry was 26 hours through the English Channel and across the Bay of Biscay – I was lucky with the weather and got quite sunburnt on the way out looking for wales and dolphins! One of the highlights was to visit the great city of Bilbau and the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, even after two decades of being open it remains a stunning building to visit.
Returning home, I was struck by the appalling state of many of our roads, now littered with potholes, mainly because the local authority no longer has the money from central government to make the repairs, and to be honest the motorways are not much better either. I was delighted to visit the Piece Hall which was opened while I was away, and hear of the thousands who came to visit, and who continue to make the journey. Certainly the Minster has already seen an increase in visitor numbers, and aural evidence is that this is happening too elsewhere across the town.
Sadly while I was away there was one of those Government announcements which was made under the radar concerning promised funding for upgrading the rail infrastructure between Leeds and Manchester.
Unbelievably the promised money has been removed and on the same day the government announced the budget for Crossrail 2 in London. So it does look that while Parliament is not sitting and the government can go unchallenged, these kind of announcements are made while many of us are out of the country and on holiday? So much for George Osborn’s vision of the Northern Powerhouse?
Yet again we see a clear North South divide on economic factors, and the economy of the whole of the United Kingdom dominated by London and the South East. Equally a new report on Public Health was published on the North South divide – it makes grim reading.
We all urgently need to get the railway line electrified and modernised. Railways bring people to work, and reduce the number of cars on the road, they also bring visitors who also bring money and business to the region.
The Piece Hall looks to capture 1.5 million visitors a year, and if people are going to come to this significant visitor attraction from across Europe and beyond, for our economic prosperity we have to get the railways sorted out, and its high time that some of the investment going into the South came North?
My question is what are we going to do about it – sit back and moan and do nothing, OR can we bring pressure to bear on the Ministry of Transport that frankly this ain’t good enough and we’re not going to accept the decision as it stands? As usual it about political will – if the government can find the money to satisfy the DUP, then it’s time for the government to fund the railway network in the north of England adequately.
You can tell by the tone of this piece, I’m fuming about this – Halifax deserves better and it’s not good enough! I can sense a Minster Series debate on transport being organised – watch this space?