Leaders combine to battle for transport cash

The figureheads of the North of England’s largest civic authorities have come together to issue a statement demanding the government commit to transport investment in the North.

The leaders will bring together a meeting of civic and business leaders in late August ahead of Parliament’s resumption following the summer recess, a meeting that will help develop a shared strategy.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has been a prominent figure on national news this week, calling into question the government’s commitment to London’s Crossrail 2 project and apparent readiness to reduce spend on rail electrification and improvement programmes such as the Northern Hub at Manchester Piccadilly.

Burnham has been joined by Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese and Steve Rotheram, the Mayor of Liverpool City Region, along with Judith Blake, Julie Dore and Joyce McCarty, respectively the leaders of Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle City Councils, in signing a statement highlighting their concerns.

The statement reads: “Recent statements by the Secretary of State for Transport were unexpected and have caused confusion and concern.

“They have created considerable uncertainty about Government promises already given for developments on the Trans-Pennine services.

“Yesterday, further statements have raised fears over the Government’s commitment to Northern Powerhouse Rail, the future of the Northern Powerhouse itself, and indeed the Government’s stated aim of rebalancing the UK economy. If the Government can’t be trusted to stick to promises already given, then it is hard to have confidence that they will deliver longer term agreements made to the North.

“The Government urgently needs to clarify its position on both short-term and long-term commitments to the North and confirm if it remains committed to the Northern Powerhouse and Transport for the North.

“To develop our shared approach to these crucial issues we agreed to convene a summit for northern political and business leaders in late August, ahead of the return of Parliament.

“We call on the Government to return to working constructively with us to correct long-term imbalances in transport funding and to give the people of the North the rail services they deserve and have been promised.”

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The Government was always going to do this after the northern cities were devolved , there is a legal cap on what they can spend on rail infrastructure . Transport for the North will have to pay for the rail improvements out of their own money , seems only fair as they will profit £4 for every £1 spent .

By Barny

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