Last week, The Scarborough News and its parent company JPIMedia Yorkshire joined forces with other publishers to challenge Britain’s main political parties to commit to a package of policy measures to turbo-charge the North’s economy.
In a bid to narrow the North-South divide, we are also asking what local businesses think about the Power up the North campaign.
Sirius Minerals, which is currently constructing the Woodsmith Mine, near Whitby, as part of its polyhalite project, has stated it is behind the campaign “every step of the way”.
Chris Fraser, Managing Director and CEO, Sirius Minerals plc, said: “There has never been a more important time to reignite the Northern economy.
“Political gridlock in Westminster and the resulting economic uncertainty means we are in danger of failing an entire generation of people in the North.
“We need an effective industrial strategy for the North, investment in rail and road infrastructure like the beleaguered A64, and better training for young people, so that businesses and people are able to work and live in the area, confident that they can and should stay for the long term.
“That is why the Power up the North campaign is so important – it is helping to hold our political decision makers to account, to make good on their promises, and to turn hitherto empty words into action. Sirius Minerals is behind it every step of the way.”
An independent study has also found that Sirius is bringing “substantial benefits” to the local area.
During its first full year of construction in its fertiliser mining project, Sirius and its contractors have already employed 900 people in high-paying, highly productive roles across the project sites – including 66% from the local area – and supported a further 245 indirect jobs.
In the report it states that the project is already playing a key role in transforming the local and national economies, having invested £355 million into the UK in 2018 and generated £199 million within the economy of Yorkshire and the North East alone.
Speaking about the Power up the North campaign and how Sirius is contributing to the economy, Mr Fraser said: “Our £3bn polyhalite mining project is already creating jobs and positive economic benefits but our project alone is not enough.
“To truly realise the positive knock-on economic effects of investments like ours, and to attract more like them to the region, urgent action is needed.”
JPIMedia and other newspapers across the North are not alone in believing that the North has been treated as the ‘poor relation’ for too long by successive governments, who have allowed social, health and economic inequalities between this region – and the more prosperous London and South east – to widen.