It is now a decade since then-Chancellor Osborne set out his vision for a Northern Powerhouse that could “take on the world”.

He used an address in Manchester in 2014 to say London’s dominance was not good for our country and set out a ‘long-term plan for a country serious about its long-term economic future’.

His speech focussed on transport, science and innovation and power as three key areas needed to build a Northern Powerhouse. Economic growth was no longer going to be concentrated on the capital. The North was suddenly just as important to the Conservatives as the South.

The political backdrop to the announcement was fascinating. The North East had been hit the hardest by four years of Conservative austerity, and 12 months later, despite David Cameron securing a narrow election victory, he was hardly backed convincingly in the region.

Our editorial the day after Mr Osborne’s speech made clear we were distinctively underwhelmed. We were pleased that the economic potential of the region was high on the political agenda – whether it was just a vote gathering mission or not – but we voiced fears that the focus would be too heavily placed on the likes of Leeds and Manchester.

We would love to have been proved wrong, but ten years and five Tory Prime Ministers down the line, there are few signs that for the North East, the Northern Powerhouse is anything other than a convenient slogan. We were sceptical then, and we are even more so now.

Have there been positive changes? Absolutely. The power of the region and has undoubtedly accelerated in the last decade. Devolution has played a major role in that, with the creation of the Tees Valley Combined Authority in 2017 being followed by the initial North of Tyne Combined Authority in 2019. The new North East Combined Authority has cemented this.

But wages and life expectancy in the North East are among the lowest in the UK, while levels of child poverty are still shockingly high. One in three babies, children and young people across the North East are growing up in poverty. There is nothing to celebrate about that.

Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe factory was hailed a prime example of the sort of investment which would help deliver a Northern Powerhouse by Mr Osborne in 2014. Fast forward ten years, and there is a real and impending risk the factory might have to close for good.

And then there is HS2, hailed “the most important investment in the North for a century” by Mr Osborne. It now won’t come anywhere near our region.

When asked about the successes of the Northern Powerhouse by this newspaper a Conservative spokesperson said they had a “clear plan to deliver HS2 between Euston and West Midlands”. There’s nothing northern about that powerhouse.

Leaders will argue devolution of powers and funding across the Northern Powerhouse area have provided some of the levers to start to address these longstanding challenges. And there has to be some level of realism that change will not happen overnight.

That said, this is not about pitting north versus south, or even east versus west for that matter. It is about the massive economic potential of the North East being unlocked for the benefit of the whole country, by the Government providing the region with the infrastructure we need to grow. We can’t do it on our own.

The Conservatives insist they are sticking to their plan to level up every corner of the UK, with polling day in the General Election less than two weeks away. Labour say the Northern Powerhouse, and then levelling up, were slogans and soundbites “exposed as a scam and a sham”.

Yes there has been progress, but the fact there is even still a debate about its success shows how much work there is to do. And the real danger is we will still be having this conversation in another 10 years, as our region continues to be left behind.

For more than 150 years, The Northern Echo has been fighting for our region. Our recently-launched election manifesto focused on some of the key aspects of the original powerhouse vision, calling for, amongst other things, Hitachi to be saved and a concrete plan to reduce child poverty.

If the Northern Powerhouse had truly lived up to its billing, this type of campaign would not be necessary. It would not need campaigning newspapers to fight for what the millions of families and thousands of businesses were promised. Another decade must not be allowed to pass before real changes are made.

We still have a mammoth task on our hands.