Prescott: strategic plan 'desperately' needed for the North

A call from former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott for a regional devolved body covering the whole of the North features in today's newspaper round-up.

Writing in the Independent, former Labour deputy prime minister Lord Prescott said that a "strategic plan is desperately needed to deliver investment and enable the North to stand on its own two feet". Lord Prescott writes that devolution is "being pushed on the North by government and it is not coherent". "The North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber have 15 million people – three times as many as Scotland – with an economy worth more than £200 billion a year," Prescott writes. "So let’s have a body that sees all three areas working together as a super region – The North – on economic development, housing and transport. Just like they’ve been doing in London for nearly 15 years."

The Sunday Telegraph reports that Gatwick will continue to push for a second runway even if Heathrow wins government backing for its expansion plans next month. According to the newspaper, Stewart Wingate, the chief executive of Britain’s second-biggest airport, has said that even if Heathrow wins government support, Gatwick will not abandon its runway hopes. He told the newspaper: "I think the Government decision is an important milestone, but are we going to lose our appetite and build a second runway? Our belief is, Heathrow is undeliverable."

The Independent reports that a think-tank has said that English counties must be at the forefront of George Osborne’s devolution plans and not be ignored in favour of major cities, as they need new powers to help drive economic growth. According to the newspaper, a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research says that counties could become a driving force behind national economic growth and there is a "strong case" for giving them extra powers, but they risk "being cut off" from the benefits of devolution.

The Guardian reports that at least 350,000 households will be excluded from the housing market by 2020 because of a lack of affordable homes to rent or buy. According to the newspaper, analysis by property firm Savills shows that, over the next five years, "70,000 new households a year will be unable to afford to rent or buy homes at a market rate unless assisted in some way. This means that 350,000 will need some form housing priced at below market rate by 2020".

The Guardian also reports that Cambridge residents took to the streets on Saturday "in a protest to highlight the effect of the housing crisis on the city". According to the newspaper, the demonstration was in response to the government’s proposed changes to social housing in the Housing and Planning Bill, "which the Labour-controlled council says will force it to sell off a quarter of its housing stock - around 2,000 homes - to fund the controversial extension of right-to-buy to housing association tenants, and impose a 1 per cent cut on social housing rents".

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