Pacer trains may 'still have role' in North of England

  • 6 February 2015
  • From the section England
Pacer train
Pacer trains which were supposed to be temporary still run on northern local rail lines

They are 30 years old, they were supposed to be temporary, and yet northern rail passengers find themselves rattling along inside them on a regular basis.

They are Pacer trains, introduced on to our railways in the 1980s as a quick fix for the lack of rolling stock. They are basically the body of a bus with train wheels bolted on.

They currently run on routes in Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire, Teesside, Northumberland and Cumbria.

New hope

It was thought they would have a maximum lifespan of 20 years. But they are still used regularly on the Northern Rail franchise.

Yet passengers were given new hope late last year when the Prime Minister appeared to confirm they would be consigned to history when northern routes are refranchised later this year.

Read full article Pacer trains may 'still have role' in North of England

Labour MPs call for change as Green Party threat grows

  • 30 January 2015
  • From the section England
Ed Miliband
Some MPs are urging Ed Miliband to move to the left on some policies

In the not too dim and distant past the Green Party was sometimes dismissed as all beards and sandals - a bit like the Liberal Democrats but without MPs.

That latter fact is no longer true, and I'm sure the Greens would say the beards and sandals stereotype was always a slur too.

Read full article Labour MPs call for change as Green Party threat grows

North East poll backs move of powers to local areas

  • 5 November 2014
  • From the section England
Angel of the North
Ten years ago voters in the North East rejected a regional assembly

A new BBC poll suggests people in the North East are the strongest supporters of handing more power to local areas in England.

The survey carried out by ComRes indicates that 85% of people in the region favour handing powers over tax, policing and education down to more local decision-makers.

Read full article North East poll backs move of powers to local areas

English devolution - the options

  • 3 November 2014
  • From the section England
England flag flying from a car
Is it time devolution spread to England?

The fall-out from the Scottish referendum has ignited a debate on English devolution. But how might it happen?

Forms of devolution

Firstly - what are the options?

Read full article English devolution - the options

Push on for city powers - but what about the voters?

  • 23 October 2014
  • From the section England
North East Combined Authority meeting
A vision of the future? North East Combined Authority members meet in Newcastle

I was given a glimpse of the future this week, but it wasn't flying cars or teleportation.

Instead it was seven councillors in a room making decisions.

Read full article Push on for city powers - but what about the voters?

Northern Tories look to party for devolution answers

  • 26 September 2014
  • From the section England
Scottish Saltire and English St George's flag flying side-by-side
The promise of greater powers for Scotland has caused concern in England

North East Conservatives are not an endangered species as such, but they are a select bunch, and their MPs are even thinner on the ground.

There are two in the region at the moment - Stockton South's James Wharton and Hexham's Guy Opperman.

Read full article Northern Tories look to party for devolution answers

Ministers accused of letting nurseries 'wither on vine'

  • 15 September 2014
  • From the section England
Children and staff in nursery school
Oxclose Nursery School in Washington is one of a number of council nurseries with an outstanding record

They are a hugely successful part of our school system - yet the government has been accused of letting local education authority nursery schools "wither on the vine".

More than 60 have closed over the last decade, and a recent survey by an early years campaign group suggested only 12% of the 418 state-funded nurseries that survive were optimistic about their future.

Read full article Ministers accused of letting nurseries 'wither on vine'

Northern England waits for Scottish independence vote

  • 12 September 2014
  • From the section England
Flags

With the result on a knife-edge, the people of the North East and Cumbria are waking up to the possibility that what may have seemed a symbolic border with Scotland could soon become a real one.

The border counties of England have plenty in common with their northern neighbours.

Read full article Northern England waits for Scottish independence vote

Breast cancer drug stand-off "not helping patients"

  • 13 August 2014
  • From the section England
Pharmaceutical production line
The breast cancer drug Kadcyla rolls off the production line

The decision that breast cancer drug Kadcyla wouldn't be available routinely on the NHS understandably hit the headlines on TV, radio and in the press.

It seemed to pitch drug giant Roche against the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the group which decides what treatments the health service can afford.

Read full article Breast cancer drug stand-off "not helping patients"

Can Osborne deliver on northern powerhouse pledge?

  • 27 June 2014
  • From the section England
George Osborne
George Osborne has spoken about creating a northern powerhouse

George Osborne has spoken about creating a northern powerhouse in the region's towns and cities.

At the heart of that was the idea of a new HS3 high speed rail link between Leeds and Manchester.

Read full article Can Osborne deliver on northern powerhouse pledge?