Chancellor visits Wetherby in northern tour

The Chancellor of the Exchequer made a trip to Wetherby this week, visiting a textiles business where he talked about his plan to create a northern economic powerhouse.

Touring the factory and offices at Arville Textiles on Sandbeck Lane with managing director Jim Wight, the Chancellor spoke of how places like Wetherby can benefit from his vision to encourage growth in the North of England.

Chancellor George Osborne at Arville Textiles, talking with apprentices Luke Dubery and Ryan Byrom. (1408055AM5)

Chancellor George Osborne at Arville Textiles, talking with apprentices Luke Dubery and Ryan Byrom. (1408055AM5)

This visit came shortly after Mr Osborne set out his ‘pathway’ for connecting cities in the north in Manchester earlier in the day.

He said: “We have done a lot in the last few years: look at the improvements at Kirkstall Forge and the M62 and the transpennine rail links that we are improving, but that is not enough and I am not satisfied.

“I want to take these to a wholly different level where we really bring together big cities like Leeds and Sheffield and Manchester and make sure that they are more than their individual parts and that the UK doesn’t just have one global city but a collection of them in the north.

“What I am trying to do is take these cities from Hull to Liverpool and make sure there are much better transport links and that means investment but also making sure we get the maximum benefits from High Speed 2.

“There is also science and education and other things we can do for the quality of life in cities like Leeds.”

Far from only promoting the economy of cities like Leeds, Mr Osborne said smaller towns can also benefit by making the most of what is on offer.

According to analysis by the Treasury, wider investment in rail, roads, airports, and science and technology could encourage the north of England to grow in line with the rest of the UK over the next 15 years to 2030.

This would be worth an estimated additional £44bn in real terms to the northern economy - the equivalent of more than £1,600 for each person living there.

After completing his tour, where he met new apprentices at Arville Ryan Byrom and Luke Dubery, the Chancellor said how towns like Wetherby can expect to profit from this.

“One of the reasons I have come to Wetherby is to say this is not just about the big city centres, but the whole of West Yorkshire,” he said.

“I am absolutely passionate about this. I represent a constituency in the North of England and I can see the opportunities there.

“Smaller towns like Wetherby benefit from making sure that they are better connected into the cities through the tram and train idea from local MP Alec Shelbrooke and it is interesting to talk to the company here that has not expanded in the last few years and now for the first time in living memory it has apprentices.

“When I spoke with the management here they said the transport links are crucial and they were enthused about the northern powerhouse, so here is a real world example of how it can work.”

See this week’s edition of the newspaper (out Thursday, August 7) for a full report on the Chancellor’s visit.