Political and business Leaders from across major Northern cities are united in their call for investment in the East to West Crossrail project and are meeting for the first time today in Leeds to demand a fair deal on transport from the Government.
The unprecedented gathering is aimed at forcing trans-Northern rail improvements to the top of the government’s agenda.
Today’s meeting follows widespread confusion and anger after the Transport Secretary cast doubt over long promised improvements to Northern railways, despite the region having a population of 15 million, over a million businesses, and exports upwards of £50bn.
summit aimed at forcing trans-Northern rail improvements to the top of the government’s agenda.
Since Chris Grayling made his announcement around 70,000 people have signed an IPPR petition calling on the Government to immediately commit to East to West Crossrail for the North, also known as HS3 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, and to billions of pounds of ‘catch-up cash’ for Northern transport infrastructure.
In an open letter published in today’s Yorkshire Post, Chris Grayling said that any investment must be managed by the North itself:
“I am pleased that leaders from across the North are gathering for a conference in Leeds this week to debate this very issue.
“The message I want to send them is simply this: although one of my biggest priorities as Secretary of State is to build the transport links the North needs to thrive, they must be designed and managed by the North itself.
“It is central government’s responsibility to provide funding and a delivery structure that ensures efficiency, value for money and accountability. But beyond this, I want the North to take control.”
Mr Grayling said that the government is spending £13bn on Northern transport in this Parliament – the largest in government history.
The meeting comes one day after civic leaders, businesses and former Chancellor George Osborne called on the Government to back East to West Northern Powerhouse Rail, connecting the cities of the North, in Autumn’s budget. In a letter to the Prime Minister, business and civic Leaders said that the investment in Northern transport is ‘not only fundamental to the success of the Northern Powerhouse, it is fundamental to the success of the entire country.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said:
“Today’s event shows that the patience of people in the North of England has run out. We are getting organised and demanding the Government keeps all of its promises to people here and delivers a fair funding deal for the North of England.
“We are not against our capital city developing world class infrastructure but it cannot be at the expense of the North. People here have put up with clapped out trains and congested roads for long enough
“The fact we have such strong private sector support at this event shows that this not about party politics but civic and business leaders uniting to get fair deal for the North.
“The Government needs to show it is serious about rebalancing and revitalising our economy. We need to see clear prioritisation and a timetable for Crossrail for the North from the Government as well as other vital transport improvements going ahead as soon as possible.”
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council and Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester, said:
“Northern transport has suffered from underinvestment relative to London and the South East for decades. The government has acknowledged that improved transport links between our great northern cities, as well as HS2, is fundamentally important to unlocking the full potential of the North of England, supporting jobs and growth which will be even more vital in a post-Brexit landscape. As northern leaders we will keep up the pressure for a fair deal for the region.”
The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, Liverpool city region mayor Steve Rotheram, and the leaders of Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle and Manchester councils are attending the Summit. Alongside Political Leaders, the summit will also bring together a range of business groups including Downtown in Business, the Northern Business Improvement Districts, Chambers of Commerce, the Federation of Small Business (FSB), and the Institute of Directors (IoD).