WITH nominations for the Conservative party leadership contest closing later today, the country will have a new Prime Minister before the end of next month.

Whoever wins the battle to succeed Theresa May will have a lot in their in-tray. Brexit, trade deals, the future of the NHS – there are some crucial issues to tackle.

Today, though, The Northern Echo joins up with newspapers from right across the North of England, from Hexham to Halifax and Wigan to Wakefield, to urge the next Prime Minister and all the UK’s major political parties to commit to a package of policies that will boost the North’s economy and finally begin to address the widening North-South divide.

We call for the creation of a bespoke industrial strategy for the North, enabling every sector of the economy to flourish. We demand an overhaul of the region’s road and rail network as well as an acceleration of the improvement plan for the North’s digital infrastructure.

We urge politicians to agree to additional investment in the North’s schools and colleges to address an imbalance with similar institutions in the south, and request a fundamental shift in the decision-making process, devolving real power from London to the North.

For far too long, Governments of all political persuasions have failed to prioritise the North. They have done nothing to reverse decades of under-investment in key services in our region.

As the Power Up The North collaboration concludes, it is time for that to change.