So much of our economic future depends on the infrastructure investment Kirklees – and the north of England in general – desperately needs. But while we all know the potential return on that investment, securing the funding and the commitment from national government is incredibly difficult.
That is why I spent some time this week in London lobbying the Transport Minister Chris Grayling for a better deal for the north.
Across the region, we regard transport investment as the most important contributor to economic success. If we are to attract the industry and employers we need to attract the people who will work with them to deliver our economic goals.
If we want to cut pollution associated with cross Pennine travel, as people head to and from Leeds and Manchester through Huddersfield and Dewsbury, it is vital our rail infrastructure is up to the job.
Along with other council leaders from West Yorkshire, I asked the Minister to intervene to reverse the decades of under-investment by successive governments that are holding back the jobs creation and economic growth in Yorkshire.
It cannot be right that that London – as important as it is as our capital city – benefits from more than 10 times the transport investment in the north of England. I am not saying we should stop investing in transport in the south, I am arguing that everybody benefits more if government also invests in the north of England as well. That has to be in the national interest.
A devolution deal will unlock some of the decision making on investment, but we have to get on with the job of lobbying for more funding now. The West Yorkshire Plus Transport fund is a step in the right direction, but does not go far enough to turn round the legacy of decades of under-funding.
The Minster assured us that he was well aware of the need to improve all the Trans Pennine links and he demonstrated that he was fully aware of our concerns and demonstrated his detailed knowledge of the proposals currently being considered.