BUSINESS, council and church leaders in York have backed today’s call by The Press and rival newspapers for the Government to invest in the north and narrow the north-south divide.

Sean Bullick, managing director of Make It York, said there was huge potential in the whole of the North to increase inward investment, innovation and to create more highly skilled jobs.

“Never before has York and Yorkshire been so primed to take the next leap in terms of growing its economy but investment in infrastructure, transport and digital connectivity is crucial to enable us to do this successfully,” he said.

Bridget Meynell, president of York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said bringing the northern region up to the national average would generate significant economic benefit for UK plc and in the process improve livelihoods, create better job prospects for young people and allow businesses to reach their full potential.

“We see an overheating South East and a North which could contribute so much more,” she added.

York council leader Keith Aspden said he was pleased to see city leaders from across the North join forces to call for a fairer deal for the region.

“It is incredibly important to the future development of the UK that the Government delivers meaningful investment in the North, rather than continue to concentrate investment in London and the South East.

“For York, there are many opportunities with our local economy, but our schools remain the worst funded in the country for per-pupil funding; our CCG operates with a deficit of over £20 million; and Government investment in Yorkshire’s transport and rail infrastructure significantly lags behind London and the South East.”

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said he "endorsed today’s unity from the newspapers of the North - and how they’re now using their collective strength to speak up for their readers and communities".

He said: “There is more that unites us than can ever divide us, and this includes this compelling call for new action by our political leaders to tackle the social and economic inequality that exists here.”