Business leaders have praised a call by the News & Star and rival publishers for Britain’s main political parties to commit to commit to turbo-charging the north’s economy.

We yesterday – along with other newspapers and websites from our parent group Newsquest with other titles from JPI Media and Reach – published an open letter to the next Prime Minister calling on politicians to spell out what they intend to do to narrow the North-South divide.

This Power Up The North collaboration is demanding formal backing to the Northern Powerhouse policy agenda to “reverse decades of under-investment in key services”.

It wants to see detailed plans from all major parties on a bespoke Industrial Strategy for the North of England and Transport for the North to be given full policy and financial powers to “overhaul” the region’s road and rail network, including making Northern Powerhouse Rail a national priority.

Extra investment in the region’s colleges and universities to boost skills training; a programme of build a new generation of social housing, and affordable homes and accelerated investment in digital infrastructure are also on the list.

So too is devolution in Cumbria “so more decisions are taken locally”, the delivery of The Borderlands Growth Deal and the prospects for a new nuclear power plant at Moorside in West Cumbria after the initial £15 billion project’s dramatic collapse last year.

Power Up The North was backed by Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce.

He said: “The Power Up the North campaign highlights an important issue. The north in general, and we would say Cumbria in particular, gets a poor deal from central Government.

“To give an example, the annual spend on transport per head of population is £1,019 in London but only £528 in the North West.

“And as Cumbria Chamber pointed when giving evidence to a Parliamentary Select Committee last week, the South East gets 60 per cent of all spending on flood defences in England despite having only 32 per cent of the population.

“These anomalies are a result of the cost-benefit analysis that governments use to prioritise infrastructure spending. The effect is to channel money to big cities, London in particular, at the expense of areas like Cumbria.

“Whoever the next Prime Minister is, we need to move to a system that prioritises economic opportunity and builds capacity. That could unlock funding for transformational schemes such as the tidal barrages proposed for Morecambe Bay and the Duddon Estuary.

“The old Regional Development Agencies understood this, and they had the strategic vision, clout and resources to back visionary projects. We’ve lost that with their passing and the English regions are suffering as a result.”

He added: “This isn’t a begging-bowl mentality. We’re simply asking for a fair allocation of resources to help realise the north’s tremendous potential.”

Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, Henri Murison, also backed the campaign.

“At a time of unprecedented political turbulence and uncertainty, the fundamental challenge of rebalancing our economy is being held back by Whitehall despite the unqualified backing of our business leaders and the benefits it will bring in driving forward the North’s ambitions to benefit future generations,” he said.

“Closing the economic divides between North and South is vital to ensure we can make this a fairer country, raise productivity and meet the challenge of remaining globally competitive.

“The North has to come together to speak as one and the message couldn’t be clearer; commit to a clear package of policy measures, so the Northern Powerhouse can be even greater than it was in the past.”

Barry Leahey MBE, chairman of the Cumbria branch of the Institute of Directors, said: “Whoever is to lead the country next has to sort out Brexit with the urgency that business need, not only for clarity of the situation but to also return the bandwidth to a position when Westminster can recognise all the great strides forward the Northern Powerhouse has made.

“Brexit may have consumed Westminster but the business directors in the Northern Powerhouse have been working hard on crucial plans to protect and grow every sector of the economy from manufacturing to farming and we need to get back to actions, and quickly.”

Power Up The North is aiming for a similar response from the Government after it, successfully compelled the Government to take immediate action on behalf of the millions of passengers who suffered unnecessary and travel misery following a new timetable from operator Northern.

It also wants to hear plans from all political parties on its approach to Brexit, HS2 and key public services, like the NHS, social care, education and policing.

“Now Britain’s major parties and aspiring premiers are duty-bound to confirm whether or not they share One North’s aims, objectives and vision for a prosperous and fairer future for everyone who lives and works here – or will continue to put London and the South’s interests first,” the letter read.

“We – and our partners – remain committed to speaking up for our readers.”

The letter was published on the same day as the deadline for nominations for the leadership of the Conservative Party.

Penrith and the Border MP, Rory Stewart is set to be among the hopefuls.