Passenger powerGeorge Osborne recently announced ‘plans’ for the North – especially on transport.

Coalition members, including our own LibDem MP, hailed these as ‘revolutionary’.

That’s a strange way of describing a set of plans cobbled together in pre-election haste.

All they amount to are some re-announcements and reviews for totally unfunded projects – that the Government is not even committed to delivering.

This could only be seen as a ‘revolution’ in the addled brains of LibDem/Tory Coalition members, desperately contemplating electoral carnage in the North on May 7.

As Michael Dugher MP, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, said

‘The Government is pretending to offer billions of pounds for investment in the North, but the reality is they have only committed to a ‘study’ costing £12.5 million.’

Estimated costs of the ‘TransNorth’ network range between £25 billion and £65 billion. Money actually promised in the plans as trumpeted by Osborne and echoed by his LibDem lackeys – £12.5million, for what the Guardian describes as ‘ “development work” on the report’s strategic options across road and rail’ That isn’t even the shells of peanuts!

We’d be better to judge the Coalition and its ‘revolutionary’ intentions by its achievements in the North.

Michael Dugher again

“The Government’s record in the North of England is one of utter failure. They have disproportionally hit councils in the North with bigger cuts, cancelled transport projects, missed infrastructure deadlines, cut bus services and allowed inflation busting fare rises.

“London gets 24 times as much spent on infrastructure per resident as the North East. And only six of the Government’s 16 biggest promised transport projects will be completed by the time of the election.’

Better to judge it, too, by what it ACTUALLY has done recently
– rushing through the re-privatisation of the profitable, public-owned East Coast mainline
– and awarding the rail franchise again to FirstTransPennine Express, rushing again to get it out of the way, without competition here, note
– both before May 7.

Michael again – “Ministers have once again signed up to another direct contract award to a private sector rail company, desperate to get these contracts out of the door before the General Election. At the same time, they won’t even let the public sector bid in competitions to run our railways.

“This announcement is a textbook example of everything that is wrong with the current system.’

“Labour has a better plan for the North. We support long-term investment which is why will deliver the biggest devolution of economic power and funding to England’s city and county regions for generations – £30 billion over five years – including transport, housing, fairer funding and business support. We will also establish an independent National Infrastructure Commission to set out the long-term infrastructure projects that the country needs, including in the North.”

Labour’s proposed changes will also include putting the current franchise system in the bin, creating a public sector operator and ensuring a strong passenger voice within a more publicly-controlled railways.’

The LibDem/Tory Coalition promises are all jam tomorrow. And that has to be seen in relation to the swingeing cuts Osborne is also offering – no bread, let alone jam.

“People in the North are right to demand long-term transport investment following years of being let down by this Tory and Lib Dem Government, but they won’t be fooled by this pre-election con.’

Meanwhile, here in Leeds, Labour is actually delivering on transport – and specifically for the young.

James Lewis announced to Leeds City Council last Wednesday plans for half price fares on buses and trains for 16-19 year olds who are in jobs, apprenticeships or part-time training.

As James, Chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said:
“We already provide half-price travel to 16 to 18 year olds who are in full time further education. Extending the scheme from September would improve all teenagers’ access to jobs or the apprenticeships and vocational training that will open up workplace opportunities to them.

So that’s Labour in action. Changes to help our local young people – a group particularly badly hit by the LibDem/Tory Coalition’s  policies.

When you’re looking at politicians, judge them by what they do.

The motives of a Coalition that suddenly rediscovers the North and its railways in the run-up to an election, are crystal clear.

Unfortunately for the LibDems and Tories, Northerners are not known for being so easily duped.

If you want to help secure a Labour government on May 7 – and to support the campaign for Alex Sobel to win here in Leeds NW sign up now.


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