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Julian Sturdy - Strong Voice for York Outer

Julian Sturdy

Conservative Party Candidate for York Outer
Any reference to Julian Sturdy being a Member of Parliament on this website predates the dissolution of Parliament and the 2024 General Election campaign

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York Press column: All action ahead of Easter

York Press column: All action ahead of Easter

It has been a jam-packed couple of weeks since my last column where I had an opportunity to reflect on the Chancellor’s Budget. I want to begin by highlighting the fantastic news that inflation has dropped to 3.4 per cent – the lowest in two and a half years. When the Prime Minister came to

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This week in Parliament, Julian had a really positive meeting with Laura from Parkinson’s...

Julian meets with Minister to discuss Renters (Reform) Bill

Alongside Andy Simpson of York Residential Lettings Association, Julian met with Jacob Young MP...

Julian supports Dogs Trust plea to end puppy smuggling

Julian has pledged his support on the issue of puppy smuggling today at a...

Julian’s York Press Column: The Northern Powerhouse

March 3, 2017

Any mention of the Northern Powerhouse is all too frequently met with a cynical groan. I understand why, buzzwords like Northern Powerhouse appear superficial and abstract, most people find themselves asking, “what does it actually mean?” This response is entirely justifiable and we can all agree that politicians should spent less time selling a ‘brand’ and more time being clear about what these grand ideas actually entail.

An integral part of the Northern Powerhouse project is the devolution of powers and budgets from Westminster to regional elected mayors. I might be losing your interest already, devolution itself sounds like a very boring subject and if you were to bring it up at a social gathering you would probably notice the people around you immediately losing interest.

But whilst it sounds dry and technical the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. On Friday the Northern Powerhouse Minister, Andrew Percy MP, came and spoke to business leaders in York about how critical a devolution deal is for the region. I think almost everyone can get behind the idea that local people will make better decisions about our investment priorities than central government.

And I couldn’t agree more – look at the Greater Manchester for example, they are getting devolved health and transport budgets, powers over police and fire spending, and a big say on housing policy across a larger geographical footprint. All indications are that areas with devolution deals will get preferential investment along with further powers down the line, resulting in more economic growth in future. We cannot allow York and Yorkshire to miss out.

‘Missing out on future investment’ might sound theoretical, but if you look at the key challenges facing York as a city one of the major themes will always be infrastructure. I’m not saying that devolution will solve all our problems, but it could be pivotal in delivering upgrades to the A64, or even getting a station in Haxby.

And as York residents will all be able to attest to, the biggest infrastructure issue facing us today is the ‘noose’ around our city: the single carriageway northern ring road. As I have stated throughout my time as MP for York Outer, the A1237 is not fit for purpose as things stand and planned upgrades to the roundabouts, whilst a positive step, will not bring about the substantial reduction to the current gridlock. Therefore such works will be nowhere near sufficient to handle projected traffic resulting from housing developments in Haxby, Huntington and the Wigginton Road site.

Funding decisions such as these require close cooperation between housing and transport authorities and this is far harder to achieve with Government departments than local stakeholders and decision-makers who know the area. If the Government is serious about delivering economic growth in the North of England then this is not going to be implemented from the top, but rather through bestowing genuine levers of power upon local people.

Last week, a study found that the imbalance between transport infrastructure investment between London and the rest of England is set to get even worse. Part of this is because Transport for London has successfully used borrowing to finance transport projects. We need to bolster the powers of Transport for the North, and the think-tank IPPR North are calling for the launch of a northern infrastructure bond to raise capital.

Overall, I believe that the big risk is that we end up with a two-tier Northern Powerhouse; the haves and have nots of devolution. With the Northern Powerhouse project the Government recognised that the North has been underfunded and as a result is not as productive as the South. We are not asking the Government to take responsibility; we are asking to be given greater responsibilities.

The frustration is that politicking and old grudges seem to be coming to the fore, within all of the different devolution options being proposed. The truth is we need a deal, and politicians of all stripes need to worry less about the political-allegiance of any potential mayor and focus on the benefits we would all gain if we came together. It’s time for sensible heads to prevail in the interests of all areas of our great county.