MP Diana Johnson's three-year battle to get toilets in Hull station sorted 'shows why Transport for the North needs to be properly funded'

An MP told the Commons how her three-year battle to improve the toilets in Hull station showed “why Transport for the North needs to be properly funded”.

Dame Diana Johnson Picture:Tony Johnson

Dame Diana Johnson contrasted the “botched on-the-cheap” waiting room and toilet improvements at Paragon Station with the “shiny new” £500m Crossrail Station at London’s Canary Wharf, calling it a “tale of two cities”.

The Hull North MP said improvements need to start happening “visibly” on transport in the north of England - rather than being told more about Boris Johnson’s “latest fantasy projects”.

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Last month it emerged that there will be a £4m, or 40 per cent, reduction in Transport for the North’s (TfN) core funding.

File pic: One of the platforms for the new Elizabeth Line at Canary Wharf station in east London Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

When asked by Dame Diana, the Prime Minister claimed there would be “no such cut”.

Dame Diana returned to the fray last night, saying she had written twice to the Prime Minister since, asking him to correct his statement, which she said was “simply incorrect”.

She claimed that the 40 per cent cut to core funding was “undermining the original aspirations for TfN”.

And she said: “We need improvement to start happening visibly in the 2020s, rather than just hearing more about the Prime Minister’s latest fantasy projects - such as a bridge or tunnel to Northern Ireland.

“When I’m in London, I frequently pass the £500m shiny new Crossrail Station at Canary Wharf - built with private investment and complete with its lush roof garden.”

Dame Diana there could be no “greater contrast than with my three-year battle, so far, to get the botched on-the-cheap waiting room and toilet improvement at Hulls Paragon Station, managed by Transpennine, sorted out.

“If we are to be One Nation, levelled up and facing the future, these two symbolic locations must stop being such a tale of two cities.

“And that’s why Transport for the North needs to be properly funded.”

However Transport Minister Andrew Stephenson said the Prime Minister had been right in his assertion as “taking into account all funding streams their budget has not been reduced by 40 per cent.”

Overall the organisation will have access to £70m this financial year “more than any other sub-national transport body” he said.

Mr Stephenson explained that Ministers took the decision to adjust core funding because TfN had underspent on their core grant and by “their own forecast their reserves would have grown to an excessive £9.5m” if the funding had remained unchanged.

And he said core funding was just one of several funding streams for the organisation.

For example the budget for Northern Powerhouse Rail, he said, had grown from £15m in 2018-2019, to £59m this year and would rise to £67m the next financial year.

The Minister added: “What all this amounts to was that the Prime Minister was right in his assertion that there has been ‘no such cut’. Taking into account all of the funding streams available to TfN their budget has not been reduced by 40 per cent.”

And he also insisted that as TfN was a strategic, rather than a delivery body, “a reduction in core funding will not impact delivery of vital infrastructure projects”, citing ongoing schemes including the long-awaited start of work to upgrade Castle Street, the main route leading to Hull Docks, and the recent completion of the £12m footbridge over the road.