Transport test of healing promise

DURING the General Election campaign George Osborne and David Cameron told the people of Yorkshire that transport would be at the heart of their efforts to close the North-South divide and rebalance the economy – the comprehensive spending review will reveal if they are true to their word.

Initially the signs were bleak with a whole host of major transport projects shelved until after Wednesday's announcement.

They included the Leeds New Generation Transport project for rapid electric trolleybuses, the 137m scheme to improve congestion on the A180 and A160 at Immingham port, the Finningley and Rossington Regeneration Route Scheme and a 130m link road and improvements to the M18 and White Rose Way.

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These projects boast a strong value for money case – particularly in light of the Government's decision to allow billions to be pumped into London's Crossrail scheme.

Eight MPs from South Yorkshire have met with Norman Baker, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, to urge his Department to continue investing.

In a joint statement they said: "Our South Yorkshire economy is still transforming and to cut investment now risks losing the gains we have made over the last decade."

Despite the fears for investment there was a rare piece of good news when Mr Osborne revealed he had approved the 150m scheme to allow motorists to use the hard shoulder on a congested section of the M62 and a 14m project to build a new entrance to Leeds railway station.

Ian Williams, director of policy at Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the announcement, but warned it is vital that the trolley bus scheme is also given the go-ahead following the CSR.

BUSINESS PLEA TO MINISTERS ON CUTS

Cuts should be "significant but not indiscriminate" to tackle the deficit while not jeopardising the recovery, business leaders have urged.

"We agree that reducing public spending should take the weight of cutting the deficit, but this approach must be sensitive to the places that will suffer the biggest impacts of these cuts, including many parts of Yorkshire," said Nick Pontone, policy director at Yorkshire and Humber Chambers of Commerce.

He said regions like Yorkshire wanta "help up not a handout".

"Investment in future economic success such as infrastructure accounts for only a small fraction on total public spending, around two per cent, but generates long term benefits," he said.