Diana Johnson: One nation approach to regeneration must begin
Hull North MP Diana Johnson examines why two similar economic areas – Hull and the London Docklands – have enjoyed contrasting fortunes over the past 30 years
NO STONE Unturned is Lord Heseltine's recent report on how to nurture wealth creation in all regions.
It puts the Government's mantra about "rebalancing the economy" into 89 recommendations, informed by Heseltine's 1980s experience in London Docklands and Liverpool.
It shows what can be achieved when there is the determination and sustained effort to make it happen.
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The relative fortunes of Hull and London Docklands over the past 30 years is A Tale Of Two Cities. I know both areas well.
The decline of traditional East London Docks employment in the late-1970s mirrored the decline of Humber-based industries. However, Docklands, bordering the City of London, then had 30 years of regeneration. Tucked away in East Yorkshire, Hull received much less attention.
The relative divergence in fortunes between the two areas is stark.
It hasn't been all bad for Hull. We have a great university, some world-renowned companies, one of the UK's busiest ports and estuaries and great potential for culture and tourism.
Although London Docklands has the Dome, Hull has The Deep. While Docklands gained the Olympic Stadium, Hull built the KC Stadium. From 1997, Hull also saw large-scale investment in school buildings, housing and health centres.
By 2010, Hull had seen some regeneration but not enough compared with other northern cities. Since 2010, Hull has suffered a huge loss of local spending power as the coalition snuffed out the economic recovery. The deepest cuts were sent our way.
Hull's regeneration requires a long-term effort to attract private investment around a clear plan.
It is instructive to recall how intensively 1980s Canary Wharf investors, such as Olympia and York, were courted by the Thatcher Government and the London Docklands Development Corporation.
Compare it with the recent "effort" for Hull.
There is a broad consensus that green energy is a key sector for regenerating Hull, with the Humber having the potential to be a global centre of excellence in green energy – wind, wave and solar.
Yet, while Hull City Council has got planning consents in place and many others have worked on developing the Energy City concept, what have potential green energy investors seen from the Government?
Two energy policies and one shambles.
Ministers seem oblivious to the serious international competition for Siemens. If Hull lost Siemens, the jobs would also be lost to the UK. Would the coalition show more interest in attracting Siemens if the jobs were going to Surrey?
Now the Energy Bill has been launched, I hope the bickering between and within Government departments over green energy will cease.
Big tax incentives were offered to London Docklands investors. In contrast, we had to fight this Government's Caravan Tax and press for new Enterprise Zones after defence cuts and other changes meant hundreds of skilled jobs going at BAE Systems in Brough.
Modernising the transport infrastructure is vital for regeneration. London Docklands has had, among many other improvements, the Docklands Light Railway, the Jubilee Line Extension, London City Airport, new roads and new road tunnels. Crossrail is currently being built.
Hull has seen Hull Trains, Humberside Airport, the Transport Interchange and the recent Humber Bridge toll cut. But other than the A160 road scheme, little else is imminent.
We need the A63 road upgrade urgently. The Government's rail electrification plans stop at Selby. Hopefully, alternative investment can extend this to Hull in this decade.
Lord Heseltine's report said that Local Enterprise Partnerships need more power and better funding – like Labour's Regional Development Agencies.
Hull would also benefit from city region status and from bringing a Government department or agency to our area.
With banks still failing to lend enough to businesses, the coalition's Regional Growth Fund got just £60m of its allocated £1.4bn to businesses nationally in its first year.
Easier access to finance, with less red tape, is more important to Hull's budding enterprises than broadband speeds. The Government located its Green Investment Bank in London and Edinburgh. We need a branch in Hull.
Another lesson from London Docklands is that new shops, even whole shopping centres, and restaurants do not constitute regeneration. Docklands shows that a critical mass of well-paid jobs is needed first to create a stronger local demand base – the sort of jobs that Hull has been losing, not gaining.
Shops, restaurants, other services and more house-building would follow – with more jobs.
In Hull, we know that St Stephen's shopping centre has put extra pressure on traders in the Old Town, emptying more shops in places such as Whitefriargate.
Hull is suffering a huge loss of local spending power under the current Government, even without the threat of regional pay.
The steady jobs losses of recent decades have accelerated since 2010 into the current Hull jobs crisis. Comet, Seven Seas, Willerby Holiday Homes – the list lengthens. About 1,200 private sector jobs have been announced as going, or at risk, in the past month.
Coalition public sector cuts have been deeper in Hull than wealthier areas down South.
Council services in Hull have been cut by £163.50 per head, compared with £2.70 per head in West Dorset.
The Docklands experience showed that equipping local youngsters to get the jobs of the future is vital.
Young people in Hull now have to contend with tripled tuition fees, the axing of the Educational Maintenance Allowance and cuts in university and science funding. The University of Hull saw an 18 per cent fall in applications this year.
Sadly, we have seen the withdrawal of funding for the Humber Education Business Partnership and the removal of comprehensive careers advice.
The coalition got rid of the previous Labour Government's successful Future Jobs Fund. Their replacement, the Work Programme, has placed 0.7 per cent of north Hull youngsters on the scheme into jobs, costing taxpayers £14,000 per job.
No wonder the number of Hull youngsters not in education, employment or training is increasing and becoming more long-term. Hull's MPs have been working to see how we can make existing local resources go further in training young people.
Good work is going on, especially around Siemens, but Hull needs far more support for vocational skills focused on the green jobs that we hope will come.
London Docklands saw a long-term effort to attract big employers in skilled industries of the future, relevant to the local area, with well-paid jobs that boosted local spending power and created further employment in a broad-based local economy that was resilient enough to weather the credit crunch of 2008-09.
Docklands regeneration is far from perfect but few cockneys believe they would now be better off without the investment and jobs they have seen on their doorstep.
The Achilles' heel of London and the South East is that much of it is becoming over- developed, very densely populated, and with a transport system struggling to meet demand.
Asking the homeless to go North and the jobless to go South is not the formula for economic success in the modern world.
It is in the country's interest, including that of the South, for Hull and the North to share more economic activity – and add to it.
Halving the output gap between the North and the national average would increase the UK's national economic output by £41bn.
The Chancellor should welcome the prospect of the North helping to power the growth that is so vital for cutting the deficit.
The sobering fact is that London Docklands had powerful backing and huge investment that Hull has lacked – but it still took 30 years to get Docklands regeneration to where it is now.
We will not create a vibrant, resilient and prosperous local economy for Hull around Starbucks, McDonald's and Cash Converters. Seeing low-paid people in Hull going to food banks should be a source of profound worry in this country, in this century.
The Tale Of Two Cities must end. A One Nation approach to regeneration must begin.