The Government, through the Learning and Skills Council and the regional development agency, Yorkshire Forward, together with additional European funding and resources from the city of York council, have helped to provide just over £3 million to the city of York for investment. A further £2.63 million of Government funding has been allocated through Yorkshire Forward from its “Northern Way” project to support the development of York as a science city.
The growth of science has turned round the York economy. When the Conservatives were in power, unemployment in York was twice the national average. It is now well below the national average. York is not only a science city for the local community, but a science leader throughout Yorkshire and the Humber and, indeed, the north of England. Will the Government’s commitment to York and funding for science in York be a long-term commitment?
My hon. Friend clearly outlines the success of science city York since 1998 and the ability of the city council and the university of York, with the private sector, to harness the world-class potential of business clusters in bioscience, health care, IT and digital creative industries. It is a model that the Government want to support. Three science cities were mentioned in the 2004 pre-Budget report and the 2005 Budget mentioned three more. I am sure that regional development agencies, as a result of the comprehensive spending review in 2007, will be looking to see what the Government intend to do then.
While we all applaud York science city and the contribution that it has made to the local economy in North Yorkshire, does the Minister share my concern about the erosion of the green belt as the science city and York university intrude ever further into the remaining green belt in York?
The protection of the green belt against the development of the university and York science city is something that the regional development agency, the city council and the authorities take very seriously. Those decisions are not taken lightly, and I am sure that everything has been done to protect the green belt. The Government’s record on green belt protection since 1997 is exemplary.