EVEN though it would be disingenuous not to acknowledge Transport Secretary Chris Grayling’s interest in the North, and fulsome defence of the Government’s record that is published in The Yorkshire Post today, he needs to understand the issue from this region’s perspective.
Unlike London and the Home Counties that have received unparalleled investment, successive governments have under-funded the neglected North for decades, hence the anger at plans for Crossrail 2 as the Cabinet minister backtracks on pre-election promises made in Yorkshire about rail electrification.
The funding imbalance is such that plans for a ‘Crossrail of the North’, a high-speed railway line from Hull to Liverpool, cannot be advanced without Government support and George Osborne, the former Chancellor, made this very plain ahead of Wednesday's transport summit in Leeds. Mr Grayling must not abdicate responsibility.
Not only is Mr Grayling’s strategy bad politics – a commitment to the Northern equivalent of Crossrail in the next Budget would signal that this region is still on the Government’s radar – but it’s also bad economics.
A world-class transport network is fundamental to Yorkshire and neighbouring regions fulfilling their true potential – HS2 is only part of the solution – and the onus is on political and business leaders to come up with a coherent plan that forces the Government to think again when it comes to trans-Pennine services.
It’s not about individuals. It’s about the whole of the North pulling in the same direction to ensure it receives a fairer deal when it comes to infrastructure investment.
These aren’t just issues for today’s leaders. It matters to their children, grandchildren and future generations who won’t thank their forebears for any inaction.
Decisions taken now hold the key to the region’s prosperity for the remainder of the century. It’s that important.