Michael Gove's new aide: professor who wanted the North written off

Academic was dubbed 'barmy boffin' for urging the abandonment of regeneration programmes

Having enraged the teaching profession over free schools and his refusal to step into the GCSE row, the Education Secretary Michael Gove looks set to alienate another vast swathe of potential voters yesterday after appointing a new adviser who has previously suggested abandoning large parts of northern England.

Dr Tim Leunig, who will now assist Mr Gove in his reforms of the education system, was co-author of a controversial 2008 report which appeared to suggest giving up on regeneration attempts in Liverpool, Bradford, Sunderland and Hull and abandoning the cities to permanent economic decline – and instead focusing on investment programmes in economically booming areas of the south of England.

His appointment has infuriated local MPs in those cities he branded "failing".

The then Leader of the Opposition David Cameron criticised the ideas at the time. He said of the London School of Economics lecturer: "I gather he's off to Australia. The sooner he gets on the ship the better."

But yesterday the Department for Education confirmed that Dr Leunig, an expert in urban life in Britain since the Victorian age, had been appointed to the paid post advising both Mr Gove and the newly appointed Liberal Democrat minister David Laws, who has returned to government after resigning over an expenses scandal in 2010. A department spokeswoman said Dr Leunig would work alongside another new adviser, the journalist Alice Miles.

Dr Leunig, who has been chief economist at the Liberal Democrat-leaning think thank Centre Forum, was criticised in Liverpool as a "barmy boffin" for suggesting that Government give up on its efforts to "buck the market" by lavishing taxpayers' money on regenerating areas like Merseyside which have been experiencing population decline.

Stephen Twigg, the West Derby MP and Labour's education spokesman said: "This appointment will scare people in Liverpool. We know this man's opinions and the track record of this Government since May 2010. Now it's going to have an adviser that doesn't think Liverpool, or other northern cities, have a future."

Maria Eagle, the Garston and Halewood MP, said of Mr Gove: "Now we can see what he really thinks about Liverpool, if he is taking advice from someone who thinks we should all leave." There was equal consternation in Bradford where educational underachievement is a major concern. The Bradford South MP Gerry Sutcliffe said: "It does not bode well for areas like ours when someone who made such outrageous comments is advising government.

"Michael Gove had been to Bradford and met with us and I thought he understood what we were saying about the needs we have. This news is deeply concerning."

The Conservative MP for Keighley Kris Hopkins said: "I recall rubbishing these particularly silly comments when they were made. My views have not changed."

Dr Leunig said he was unable to comment on his new role under the civil service code.

The report Cities Unlimited – by the right-wing Policy Exchange think tank – called for all three million planned new homes to be built in three cities – London, Oxford and Cambridge – mirroring the way Victorian development followed success rather than seeking to promote ailing conurbations. Dr Luenig recently criticised the Prime Minister's proposal to end housing benefit for the under-25s, describing it as a gimmick.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling will not be releasing a 'romance' novel anytime soon
books
Life and Style
tech

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
One of the 'princesses' in the video
videoYouTube reinstates sweary video after takedown for 'violating terms'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

SEN Teaching Assistant

£70 - £85 per day: Randstad Education Group: SEN Teaching Assistants needed in...

Year 4 Teacher required for 2 terms

£21500 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...

EBD Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a quailed Teacher ...

Part Time SEN 1:1 Teacher

£40 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an experience SEN Te...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?