Labour Leader of Leeds City Council, Judith Blake, has joined other Labour Council Leaders and Mayors of Northern Cities in reacting strongly to recent government statements about transport infrastructure investment – i.e. the Tories’ decision to cancel funding for rail electrification while issuing backing for London’s Crossrail 2 – and their implications for the North.
The underfunding of transport infrastructure outside the capital is a long-standing scandal, with is set to continue – as is clear from IPPR research.
Electrification of the TransPennine route is seen as a touchstone of the government’s commitment to the “Northern Powerhouse’. The perception that this is now under threat has sparked a furious reaction – and a joint statement which includes setting up a summit of Northern Leaders to meet in late August.
Their 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 any confidence that they will deliver longer term commitments 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.”
The Joint statement was signed by Judith Blake, Labour leader of Leeds City Council – along with Andy Burnham, Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester, Richard Leese, Labour leader of Manchester, Steve Rotheram, Labour Mayor of Liverpool City Region, Julie Dore, Labour Leader of Sheffield and Joyce McCarty, Labour Deputy Leader of Newcastle