As the dust settles on Andy Murray’s great triumph, I have been wondering just how many people have been lucky enough to see England win the World Cup and a Brit win the Men’s Singles at Wimbledon.

In 1965 I made sure I applied on the first day when tickets became available and was with my Dad at Wembley for our famous win a year later.

This time I was lucky in the public ballot and went with my son Chris to see Murray’s victory.

There must be others who’ve witnessed both rare sporting events, let me know.

It’s not possible there was a ninety plus person in Centre Court on Sunday who has seen Perry,Moore and Murray is there?



Forty years ago Ted Heath told the nation there were going to be power cuts, now the spectre is raising its head again but for very different reasons.

In 1973 Heath was about to embark on his final struggle with the National Union of Mineworkers. The NUM was led by Wigan’s own Joe Gormley. This avuncular president of the miners won his battles with the Conservative government unlike his successor, Arthur Scargill, who preferred a glorious defeat.

Now it’s not picketing that threatens to plunge us into darkness but the failure of successive governments to plan our energy supplies properly.

Around 2015 we are going to face the perfect storm in terms of energy. The closure of our most “dirty” power stations will be complete to comply with our environmental obligations and our old fashioned nuclear power stations will be generating electricity for the last time. North Sea gas production has peaked.

There has been much talk about what will replace these old power sources and investments are beginning, but not soon enough. Hence the recent speculation that factories might be asked to reduce their power consumption between 4pm and 8pm on winter evenings.

Huge controversy has raged in rural parts of the North over wind farms and the government recently strengthened the powers of objectors which seemed a strange thing to do if it still has faith in renewables to come to our aid.

Wind is at the centre of a poker game being played between the industry ad government over the strike price (what the National Grid will pay). Before it invests the industry wants £100 per megawatt hour (twice the market price) for onshore wind farms and £155 for future offshore plants like the ones in the Irish Sea.

Future nuclear plants are similarly stalled although the government denies it is being held to ransom by the French company EDF Energy.

So we could be down to 2% spare capacity of generated power in three years time. A cold snap could see us reaching for the candles again.

Part of the solution is lying under our feet here in the North. After a two year freeze following the Blackpool quake, the government has taken a number of steps to restart the exploration for shale gas. This could meet most of our gas needs for 40 years. Incentives for exploration, streamlining of planning and standardisation of planning permits were all announced in June’s government infrastructure announcement. These were twinned with measures to ensure that local communities on the Fylde and in Cheshire share in the benefits. However unlike in America we only own six feet under our houses, so people in Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cheshire won’t be getting million dollar cheques like some lucky homesteaders in rural America.

The cost of blackouts in three years time would be huge to industry and business. Ministers must factor that into their hard bargaining over the strike price for power in the future.


Downtown in Business  campaign for a “northern revolution” to close the North South divide got a major boost this week. A leading think tank has recommended that cash strapped councils and public agencies across the North should come together to find new ways of delivering services in cooperation with the private sector.


The Smith Institute launched the report in Leeds amid claims that public spending cuts were on such a scale that senior officers and councillors could quit in despair. The report’s author, Michael Ward, warned town hall trade unions that they must cooperate in change of suffer the fate of the print unions who led a futile fight against changes in newspaper production in the 1980s.


Public sector cuts are leading to a major rethink about the very basis on which services are delivered. Roger Marsh, Northern Leader for Government and the Public Sector for Price Waterhouse Cooper in Leeds feels the current system of delivering council services is broken. He believes the Combined Authority model already operating in Greater Manchester could be copied in West Yorkshire.


The report paints a gloomy picture of the central government’s ability to sustain local government from a shrinking pool of tax revenue. It says that North Sea oil is in decline and countries are engaged in a race to the bottom in slashing Corporation Tax.


The report analyses the claim that northern councils are doing worse than their southern counterparts in the current settlement. They find that it is so and point out that the New Homes Bonus is benefiting southern councils that would have built new houses anyway.


Mr Ward called on councils to use technology to cut costs so they could concentrate on personal services for children and the old. John Pugh, the Lib Dem MP for Southport, said it was not a good time for council’s to be visionary. His authority, Sefton, was totally preoccupied with coping with the cuts.


Mr Ward ended with a rallying call for a Constitutional Convention for England to debate his proposals. Perhaps he will join Downtown’s Northern Revolution.