IF China can build a hospital in ten days for victims of the coronavirus, why have plans for Heathrow expansion and HS2 already been going on for 14 and 11 years, respectively, with virtually nothing to show for them?

I suppose it’s partly because China is a totalitarian state, whilst the UK is a democracy where everyone must have their say and, with a free press and rampant social media, prudential and environmental factors have to be considered. I often wonder, however, if our grand designs would be cheaper and more environmentally friendly if we just got on with them.

In an emergency, we’ve proven we can do it. In the Second World War, the Mulberry Harbours, vital for D-Day, went from go-ahead to action in around 18 months, even though they had to be built in secret.

Another quick fix was Operation Pluto, under which, simultaneously with the construction of the floating harbours, we secretly laid a massive pipeline across the Channel to support the Allies with vital fuel.

In future, we must heed Churchill’s mantra “action this day!” successfully to compete alone in the wide, wide world.

Steve Kay, Redcar & Cleveland Councillor.