Bishop of Leeds calls for greater integration and connectivity in northern communities

 The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, many of the points I wanted to make have already been made, and I will not repeat them, but I do want to emphasise one or two points. When we talk about the north, I sometimes think it is a bit like the way we talk about Africa, as if it was one monolithic place. The north is not. It is very diverse, differentiated and complex. For example, we have heard about Bradford having a very young population, 23.6% being under the age of 16. Where are the jobs for them?

That is creating an uncertain future. I gather that £350 million has already been committed to the NHS every week. We keep hearing figures cited, but there is a finite pot of money—so what is going to give? We need honesty and realism as that is taken forward. The resilience largely depends on the nature of the people and the tools they are given to shape their own future. Local leadership has to be established, or continued, that is inspirational and dynamic. I want to pay tribute to some of the leaders of our local authorities, who are expected to do more and more with less and less. There are excellent examples in some of the authorities that my diocese covers.

Connectivity is, in the end, where resilience will lie. I speak as someone who comes originally from Liverpool. I once went to Hull, although I am sure I will head back in the coming year. I am now in Leeds; I have lived in Bradford and studied there as well. When we talk about the northern powerhouse, too often we speak in terms of east-west connectivity, purely in terms of the M62 corridor. That is what we mean by the trans-Pennine route. What happens to places such as Harrogate? What happens to the post-industrial towns of Halifax, Huddersfield, Kirklees and Calderdale, which do not seem to figure too well in the ruminations about connectivity? There is no point linking up Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Hull if we are not addressing certain questions, which I have raised in this House before. For example, Bradford has two stations but they are not joined up, so one cannot come off the north-south route and get across, unless something is done within Bradford to join it up. If we do not do that, we are militating against the possible thriving, not only of some of the northern Yorkshire towns and communities but also the west Yorkshire towns.

I have run out of time, so will leave it there. Integration and connectivity are essential.

Lord Davies of Oldham (Lab) [extract]..The right reverend prelate the Bishop of Leeds emphasised that not just the cities need consideration but the smaller towns that are satellites to them and the surrounding countryside, which will also require real consideration if their interests are to be protected.

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