SENIOR political figures in the North of England have urged the Government to commit to delivering a “Northern Budget” to bring multi-billion pound investment to transform the region’s beleaguered transport infrastructure.
The intervention, which is backed by members of Transport for the North’s board who collectively represent more than 15m people, has urged the Government to deliver on commitments previously promised as part of the Northern Powerhouse agenda.
It comes just days after Chancellor Sajid Javid announced a fast-tracked spending review for government departments for the next year, and follows the Power Up the North campaign launched in June.
The Yorkshire Post joined 33 other newspaper titles in the North to demand that the Government stops treating the region as an “after-thought”, asking for devolution to help “turbo-charge” the economy to close the North-South divide.
Northern leaders are now calling for a commitment to three core elements to ensure upgrades to the transport network, including a £7bn Northern Infrastructure Pipeline project.
The initiative would include road and rail projects which would start in the next five years and have the potential to transform transport links.
Barry White, the chief executive of Transport for the North, said: “We need a Northern Budget to make both the shovel-ready projects and the ambitious longer-term programmes like Northern Powerhouse Rail a reality.
“Closing the gap between North and South is essential if we’re to compete on a global stage – but the North’s constrained by creaking infrastructure.
“These are the minimum requirements needed to overturn the under-investment, under different governments, stretching back decades.
“It’ll ensure the North becomes greater than the sum of its parts and will get the UK firing on all cylinders.”
Ministers are also be asked to pledge support to building the £39bn Northern Powerhouse Rail network by 2040, as well as committing £1bn to Transport for the North for the next three years.
York Council’s leader, Keith Aspden, claimed developments such as York Central, earmarked for one of England’s largest brownfield sites around the city’s railway station, would be key, bringing in up to 6,200 jobs.
He said: “Today we are on the brink of a once in a lifetime opportunity to build on the strengths northern cities and towns provide. There is the energy to make this happen. Now we need the commitment.”
The Treasury said more than £13bn has already been committed to improving the North’s transport and further plans and will be set out “in due course”.