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Burnham pushes GM Transport but station failure casts a shadow

Burnham My Get Me ThereGreater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham made a big speech on transport today. You can read it here and read the Place North West report here.

Burnham is setting up a Greater Manchester Strategic Transport Board. Otherwise, it’s as you were. Everything is carrying on much as before in line with the TfGM 2040 strategy written prior to the mayoral election.

But there’s one other big change, and its a real disappointment. The Government rejected the GM bid to take over running the 97 Greater Manchester rail stations.  That’s been a key aim for more than three years and it’s now clear that TfGM will not be getting control of a single station.

The formal request was submitted in March with some fanfare, but the comments in Burnham’s speech yesterday seem to be the first public acknowledgement that the answer was no. TfGM were optimistic of success, but now Burnham says that Grayling – the Secretary of State – rejected the proposal way back in the Summer.

Burnham says he went back to the Government with a revised proposal (a pilot scheme to take over just 12 stations), which has also been rejected. Instead he has been offered a loose talking shop, but no transfer of powers.

(As an aside, there is still a little confusion. Burnham now says the plan was rejected in the summer, but TfGM chief Jon Lamonte is quoted in October as suggesting it was very much still alive).

Given that so many of Burnham’s plans rely on the Government devolving further powers, that  raises questions over how deliverable the other proposals are. Much of the Greater Manchester transport strategy relies on Whitehall playing ball.

That transport strategy focuses on:

  • bus regulation and service improvement
  • creating a less bizarre ticketing and payment system
  • better train and tram services
  • getting more people cycling and walking
  • a joined-up public transport system that gets people out of their cars.

The TfGM Strategy is good. Not gaining control of the stations is a real worry.

Demoted

The fate of the TfGM Committee is notable. (Full disclosure: I sat on the committee for a year). Devolution in 2014 demoted it from a decision-making body to a consultative one. Burnham’s new Transport Board will make that committee even less significant.

Next to watch out for: Chris Boardman’s GM Cycling and walking strategy will be announced on Friday.

 

becg is a sector-specialist, multi-disciplinary communications consultancy for the Built Environment sectors.  Find our more about how we can help your business at becg.com and follow us @becgUK, or give Iain a call for a chat and a moan about our transport system over a coffee.

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