Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham told the Northern Transport Summit the region faces a critical six months if it is to make its case to Government for more investment in infrastructure.
See below for highlights video, slides + gallery
Burnham issued a rallying cry to more than 230 delegates urging business leaders to work “side-by-side” with politicians to challenge assumptions about investment in the North and improve the way it lobbied Government ahead of the next budget.
He spoke at a day-long conference in central Manchester, hosted by Transport for the North and Place North West, sponsored by Remarkable Group, Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, TEM Planning and Broadway Malyan.
The Mayor said Northern Powerhouse Rail, which would link the cities of the north, would be a “game changer” and called on Government to integrate the plans with proposals to bring HS2 to the region.
He added that Government had been “half-hearted” in its commitment to Northern Powerhouse Rail, and it would be a “national scandal” if it decided to fund London’s Crossrail 2 but failed to invest in northern rail infrastructure.
Burnham said transport in the North was at capacity following years of under-investment, and transport infrastructure projects would be the catalyst for bringing the Northern Powerhouse “back to life”.
The Mayor also set out a series of transport priorities for Greater Manchester including devolution of railway stations, plans to improve cycling infrastructure, making rail more attractive to passengers, and the launch of smart ticketing.
A great opportunity to be grasped
The newly-appointed transport minister Jesse Norman MP, addressed the conference saying the Northern Powerhouse was a “great opportunity to be grasped” adding the north should become a “single, strong, coherent, economic region.”
Norman added the North had always been “pioneers” in using transport to drive economic success and better connectivity in the region was key to growing the northern economy.
Transport for the North providing a single voice on transport
David Brown, chief executive of TfN, which is set to become England’s first sub-regional transport body later this year, said the organisation was providing a “single voice” on strategic transport issues would deliver a clear message about the region’s priorities to Government.
Brown said TfN would have to be “business-like” when it came to making the case for investment and could not simply go to Government with “a wish list” of projects. He said the organisation was focused on economic growth, with new transport links potentially adding 850,000 jobs and £100bn to the northern economy by 2050.
TfN chairman John Cridland said better transport connectivity would “empower and liberate entrepreneurial activity,” with Jonathan Spruce, head of policy on strategy at the organisation, adding that the North had “competed against itself” for investment for too long, with TfN’s plans “joining the dots” by linking businesses across the north to get better movement of people to higher quality jobs.
“The only way we will realise the size of the prize is if we act collectively,” he told delegates.
Paul Swinney from the Centre for Cities set out the economic challenge facing the region, explaining that cities in the South of England were currently 50% more productive that those in the North. He added that if cities in the North matched the productivity, it would add £164bn to the economy.
James Rayner, board director at Broadway Malyan, said infrastructure investment needed to consider the booming population and cater for an increasing number of older and younger people living in cities.
Rayner added that places like Manchester and Liverpool needed to invest in connectivity if they were to compete on a global scale, and smart technology and artificial intelligence would improve living environments and “reclaim streets” with more pedestrian-orientated designs.
Devolution and the rewriting of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework was welcome, as better links were needed between land use and transit planning, he said.
Emma Degg from the North West Business Leadership Team said the need for the private sector to “step up and support partners” to encourage economic growth had never been greater, and industry should “keep calm and carry on” through short-term turbulence.
Rail, multimodal and public-private partnerships
The day included a series of panel discussions covering local government, the region’s rail infrastructure, investment in multimodal transport and the role of the private sector in helping deliver transport schemes.
Local government panel discussion:
- Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council, and chair of Transport for Lancashire, said the £300m Growth Deal and £400m City Deal was improving transport infrastructure in Lancashire, with the priority to improve rail links with the East of England
- Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said over the next five years Greater Manchester could expect a fully integrated transport system which could be compared with London’s
- Mark Lynam from the Sheffield City Region Executive Team, stressed that a multimodal transport system was critical and a priority was to improve connectivity between the region’s towns
- Liverpool City Council’s transport lead Liam Robinson told delegates the city’s ports and logistics industry was its USP and would be supported with a better road network
- Frank Jordan, acting deputy chief executive at Cheshire East Council, said preparation was underway for the arrival of HS2 in Crewe to ensure the region maximised the opportunities it presented and attract more people to live and work in the area
- Cumbria County Council assistant director of economy and environment, Angela Jones, told delegates better transport links would be needed up unlock the potential of the county’s industries such as energy, nuclear and advanced manufacturing
Private sector panel discussion:
- Henry Brooks from TEM Planning said transport plans for the North had come a long way in a short period of time and the private sector should now be “unleashed” and be the main delivery body to support public sector objectives
- Collaboration between public and private sector would be key in turning the vision for the North into a reality according to Deborah McLaughlin at GL Hearn, who reminded delegates that long-term plans shouldn’t mean delays in providing transport investment to support thousands of homes currently being built
- Kevin Whitmore from Remarkable Group told the conference that business leaders could not simply rely on politicians to make the case for investment and needed to provide “as much ammunition as possible” to make the strongest argument
- Christian Spence from the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce said its members were supportive of transport plans, but would benefit from seeing more delivery on the ground, and a consideration of the full door-to-door journey
- The skills gap will be a huge challenge when it comes to building major infrastructure projects according to Michael Odling at Mace, adding businesses would need to know what kind of skills they would need to develop as the economy changed
Rail panel discussion:
- Tim Hedley Jones from Virgin Trains said more flexibility was needed in the current franchising systems to allow companies to adapt to changes in demand and technology
- According to Graham Botham from Network Rail, TfN and devolution was helping put a clearer case to government for rail investment and moving away from traditional formulas for securing investment
- Transport for Greater Manchester’s Amanda White told delegates that an outline business case for taking control of train stations in Greater Manchester had been submitted to government, with the proposals encouraging investment by making stations part of community regeneration
- Paul Staples of Transpennine Express said the group was introducing £500m of new rolling stock with 220 new carriages with 13m extra passenger journeys every year, adding the sector needed to find ways to secure investment in new stock before trains become overcrowded
Multimodal panel discussion:
- The North’s transport infrastructure had become “antiquated” according to Warren Marshall from Peel Ports, and the time had come to end discussions and accelerate delivery in infrastructure investment to support the £750m being invested in port projects by Peel
- Jeremy Bloom said Highways England was spending £3bn over the next three years on road improvements, with major plans to improve access to ports in the region
- Lynda Shillaw from Manchester Airport Group said airports were massive economic drivers for the region with each long-haul route adding £130m to the local economy
- Robert Hough from Peel Airports said growth at Doncaster Sheffield Airport had the potential to spread the benefits of airport connectivity across the North
To watch the keynote speeches in full, visit Place North West’s Youtube channel
To view the presentations given on the day visit Slideshare
Click any image below to launch gallery