Austerity must still apply, but not in south

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling
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Great News, Chris Grayling, The Minister for Transport, who has done so much for transport in the north and for Sheffield in particular has announced that the government intends to proceed with the £20 billion, (and the rest!), development of Heathrow Airport, in the South-east in case you don’t know.

Second on a list of dubious justifications for this decision was ‘it will benefit the whole country’. So we can look forward to basking in the spin-off for this enormous investment in the south in the same way as we are fully enjoying the benefits of the £20bn, (and the rest), made on Crossrail 1, and then the equally beneficial to us, Crossrail 2, a further £20 or £40bn who knows, but definitely in London, for all our benefits.

We have barely got over the superb nationwide benefits which heavy investment in the London Olympics brought to ‘the whole country’ and before that could hardly handle all the local benefits which developing the National Football Stadium and the Millennium Dome in London suburbs, (where else?), brought us.

Of course austerity must still apply. Well in the North and Midlands at least, and it would be naive to suggest there is a money tree somewhere, because it has been hacked down and consumed, in the metropolis. So it is well overdue for our politicians to make a stand against the perpetual assumption that all meaningful investment has to be in London and the south east for the benefit of the rich and famous and non-doms.

Where might these voices be heard? Clearly not from the Conservatives, who are a totally southerncentric party. Unlikely from Labour – who nobody seems to know what they stand for any more,least of all themselves. And certainly not from local councillors who are a shambles more focused on eliminating trees and prosecuting their electorate.

This is an urgent case for the new regional Mayor to make common purpose with his peers in Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool, and not only come up with proposals for serious development expenditure away from the south-east, but more particularly to provide resistance to the long-standing and unfair perceived wisdom amongst Government departments and London-based civil servants that the only place meaningful expenditure can be made is in London. And they can start with Chris Grayling and his biased Department of Transport cronies.

That really would be good news for us all.

Richard Lewis

Rustlings Rd, Sheffield, S11