Northern Powerhouse or DIY?

We don’t do half measures. Our football teams push it to the brink, our cricketers – generally ginger haired – excel through guts or glory and our entertainers punch way above their height.

Our economy’s the same. We rose on the back of coal, iron and ships and collapsed. More than any other region we became reliant on the public sector for work, but austerity saw to that. And why was austerity introduced? Didn’t it have something to do with our very own Northern Rock?

Even when we’re far from home, it always seems that somebody from the North East is the most noticeable – both visually and audibly – in our train, plane or audience.

So why then do we have a growing concern that this place, of all places and people, is being ignored?

I heard on the radio somebody from the South complaining it wasn’t fair that the North was going to have a powerhouse. Don’t worry…it looks like the power’s going to run out just outside Leeds.

As we digest the content of the Queen’s speech and await the Chancellor’s budget I would, humbly, like to issue a few challenges to James Wharton – the MP for Stockton and Northern Powerhouse Minister – and his government:

Demonstrate that the Northern Powerhouse is truly Northern.

Respect the differences within the region which makes a Manchester-style devolution impossible.

Do more to close the skills gap

Cherish and nurture the sectors – oils and gas, energy, chemicals, pharmaceuticals – which have flourished here through imagination, hard work and enterprise.

Realise the long-term impact of a right-to-buy Housing Association home.

Recognise the damage here of a withdrawal from Europe.

Do something about our roads.

I hope all of the above are on Mr Wharton’s to do list. There is an alternative, of course – as favoured by adopted North Easterner Ben Stokes and numerous entrepreneurs from the region…”I’ll sort this out, thanks.”