Last Friday was the inaugural Northern Research Group conference in Doncaster. Energy in action!
And what an event it was.
The buzz around the conference was reminiscent of my first day in Parliament as a newly-elected MP in December 2019.
Lots of smartly dressed people all with a common goal of winning for our country.
And what a win we had.
Nearing 400 delegates including MPs from all over the country, this was definitely a win for our newly-crowned City of Doncaster.
I was honoured to open the event on what levelling up meant to the North, Doncaster and me.
I hope the Government were listening as I said in my speech if they keep their promises, the North will pay them back in dividends.
Some of the media spoke of the disappointment in the room last Friday afternoon and of course many guests wanted to see our Prime Minister.
But when you are the lead figure of the West’s huge support for Ukraine against the Russian invasion of their country then I’m afraid tough decisions have to be made and this was one of them.
So back to the conference.
What was discussed, you ask?
Well, all the topics with a golden thread of ‘levelling up’.
Health, jobs, education, skills, net zero. All debated by senior stakeholders, colleagues and myself.
It really was a fantastic day of purposeful debate, discussion, conversation and optimism.
And I do think, like many of my colleagues and Doncaster’s leaders, that all the right ingredients are here.
I also see the same will to achieve held by central government when I am in Westminster, too.
But we do need to get on with it. Covid has set us back two years and the Ukrainian invasion isn’t helping but we must get on. It will take time. As I have said before, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
It was 1964 since we last had a Tory MP in Doncaster.
Six decades of neglect sadly cannot be rectified overnight.
I wish it could.
If a decision on a new hospital was to happen today it would probably take three years before a shovel hit the ground and probably five years to build and move into.
So a little patience is needed, these infrastructure projects will take time.
Making the most of the development areas around the airport and Unity at Thorne, will take time.
It will also take discipline.
We can only sell a parcel of land once and building warehouse after warehouse will not help our economy in the same way that the likes of a manufacturing plant would do.
We do need warehouses but we also need more of everything to achieve a balanced strong local economy.
Quality jobs. Skilled jobs. Careers for all.
This way we retain our graduates.
So we must seek out the companies that want to invest in our people and not just use them as a commodity.
Our opportunities from our becoming a Priority Education Investment Area are huge but again this will take time to mature.
But what we can all do now, with immediate effect, is level up our attitude, by teaching our children you get nowhere with excuses.
Be everywhere with an attitude of ‘I can and I will’.
Being positive and ‘speaking up’ Doncaster and the North at all times.
So let’s embrace every opportunity that comes along, let us encourage everyone to invest in their education and their life.
Let us showcase the opportunities to our young and old and let us showcase the North to the world.
And what better showcase could there be than my home city of Doncaster with its two castles, Yorkshire Wildlife Park, its racecourse, its Mansion House and its award-winning airport.
The list goes on. I am very excited for the North.
And I am obviously excited and full of energy for our Northern Research Group Conference next year, too.
(Source: Yorkshire Post)