Tim Norman: money would not go anywhere to restoring services that have been slashed
The Government’s attempts to sway Labour MPs to back Theresa May’s Brexit deal with an offer of £1.6bn has been denounced by the Yorkshire Party.
The prime minister’s £1.6bn Stronger Towns Fund, much of it allocated to the North and the Midlands, is supposed to go areas that have not “shared the proceeds of growth”.
However, Tim Norman, Yorkshire Party spokesperson on business and skills, said: “The Conservative Government appears to be trying to get more MPs on side in order to get their Brexit strategy through Parliament.
“It has announced a £1.6bn sop to Brexit opponents in order to try to win their votes.
“But what would it actually do?” asks Tim, who will be a candidate for the Bridlington South ward in the East Riding of Yorkshire Council in May’s local elections.
“For Yorkshire and the Humber this equates to £197m. But this is then to be spent over seven years so it is only £28m a year for an area that has a population larger than Scotland’s with some of the most deprived areas in the UK.
“As a bung, a bribe or whatever you want to call it, frankly, it’s totally inadequate. Indeed it’s an insult.
“Local council budgets have been slashed over the years and this money does not go anywhere supporting services cut to the bone
“It’s also clear from the announcement that regions such as Yorkshire will lose out on the EU money post Brexit. Any transfer of funds from Brussels to the regions will not happen. Instead the money will be squirrelled away in London.
“This is far too little to make any impact on the deprived towns in the North. There needs to be a wholesale policy adjustment to encourage businesses to grow and expand and employ. More should be spent on infrastructure so that these deprived towns can encourage inward investment.
“The final piece of the puzzle is the additional £600m that the Government couldn’t decide what to do with and so have opened it up to bids. This is going to create divides between councils and areas when we should all be pulling together.
“Again the Government believes that it knows what needs doing but the funds should be left to locals to decide where to invest for best effect.
“With a One Yorkshire and a more visible management structure the funds could be much better unlocked and more investment encouraged.
“All of this shows there is no substitute for meaningful regional devolution. Other parts of the UK enjoy this – why can’t Yorkshire?”
Read the Yorkshire Party’s policy principles on the economy at http://yorkshireparty.org.uk/economy/