Hull has always been different and this is by no means a criticism. We must celebrate diversity and difference, it’s what makes us culturally rich however points of difference should be communicated, debated and argued in democratic society even if concession and compromise result. And it is through this discussion and debate that ideas are formed, circulated and agreed upon. Sounds sensible doesn’t it? but it’s astounding how sense fails to prevail in important strategic decisions that have wide reaching impact on our communities. Something Hull and Humber appear to have over looked.
I have often wondered how many people living and working in the Humber fully understand how many decisions are made on their behalf without consideration for how it may impact them or their families in the future. Huge investment has been pumped into the Humber, specifically Hull, creating giant steel encased castles of commerce which we were firmly told will bring economic prosperity and growth. Some stand empty, their silent corridors echo as birds perch on glass and chrome turrets looking out onto the river.
Some are alive and bustling filled with shoppers selecting goods from outlets mirrored across the country. Some may say that shopping is so easy these days as all centres look the same. Some may say that difference and diversity has been squeezed from our commercial districts as retail is diverted from former shopping streets now left desolate and vacant. Long standing businesses are forced out in favour of ‘regeneration’
And now we have a new pot to spend from: the ‘Economic Growth Fund’ courtesy of Mr. Pickles MP and destined for our struggling northern economies who jostle like children wanting an ice cream from the van panicking that it may run out. Towns and cities have been told to form partnerships after years in dispute and all for what? A smaller piece of an ever-decreasing cake.
The issue here is not that Hull has failed to secure its economic future by isolating itself, nor that Northern Lincolnshire is ‘all right Jack’ after finding a friend in Greater Lincolnshire, but that the Humber has become even more divided.
Parochial infighting and political process had been substituted for an opportunity to create a different approach to economic and social development that may stop the tidal obsession with short-term ‘regeneration’ projects. It is important to remember that the E in LEP stands for Enterprise and what enterprise needs is fertile and supportive environments at all levels of the regeneration process. Throughout the entire LEP proposal the rhetoric was of business and politics: the experts, the think tanks, the policy makers, the politicians BUT what about the local people? Regeneration is not about making communities fit into grand schemes of steel nor is it about edging out natural bedfellows because of historical grudges.
Those that succeed in our brave new big society will be those that do it for themselves and by that I do not mean for free! It will be those that embrace the LEP in whatever form it takes even if they need to raise they’re voice and shout even louder. There’s nothing wrong with being different but cutting your nose off to spite your face could leave you on your own in the playground.
Personally, I could not agree more with Helen’s post. Historical and political grudges are frankly incredibly small-minded and selfish. It will be interesting to see what Carl Minns, the leader of Hull City Council has to say. You can see what he’s doing on Twitter here.
It’s time for the city to seek unity, strength in numbers and look to the future. Not withdraw, put up yet more barriers and expect to succeed in isolation. Success means hard work, communication, enterprise and innovation. The sooner the people who are ‘in charge’ realise this the better.
So what do you think?