Wanted: Fairer deal for transport - or region will grind to a standstill

The Yorkshire Post has launched a major campaign to get a fair deal for transport in the region - backed by the stark warning that it will grind to a halt without it.

Yorkshire's present prosperity and future success have been thrown into serious jeopardy by an unfair North-South divide in Government funding for the roads, railways and waterways which threatens to torpedo the spectacular economic growth of the region.

The Road to Ruin campaign is highlighting how our region is receiving billions of pounds less than London and the South East for its transport and that unfair disparity risks plunging Yorkshire into a hugely-damaging gridlock that could cost businesses, their employees and the communities that depend on them their very livelihood.

Official figures prove that Yorkshire is not getting a fair deal. In London, 667.34 is spent on public transport for every person in a year. In Yorkshire, spending is only a third of that amount, at just 224.21.

Now the Yorkshire Post's Road to Ruin campaign is calling for an end to be put to that disparity and for the Government to recognise that much more must be spent to ensure the continuing and future economic success of our region.

Business leaders warn Yorkshire will suffer without that extra funding. And as a stark illustration of what the future could hold, those warnings come in the week when it was revealed that if the Government fails to back a Supertram network for Leeds, that will lead to the loss of a staggering 2.4bn of investment and up to 34,000 jobs.

Commuters already face clogged-up roads, with the M1 and M62 among Britain's most congested motorways, or rail overcrowding with passenger numbers rising by up to 20 per cent.

Firms are losing thousands of pounds due to traffic congestion, which could also affect the development of the Humber ports that handle 80 million tonnes of goods annually and upon which thousands of jobs depend.

And experts are predicting "gridlock" on key routes with the Government failing to invest sufficiently in upgrading road and rail links, despite pledges to address regional economic disparities and recognising good transport links help.

Yorkshire is getting just 7.6 per cent of the English transport budget with London receiving a whopping 33.4 per cent, according to research from the Passenger Transport Executive Group (PTEG), which represents key regional transport bodies.

London's overall share was 4.959bn but Yorkshire's only 1.126bn in terms of total identifiable transport spending in2004-05, including local and central government.

The unfairness of the region's financial deal is acknowledged by Yorkshire Forward, the regional development agency, which is warning that our ability to compete nationally and internationally would suffer if roads are congested and trains delayed.

The agency's chairman, Terry Hodgkinson, said: "I am very optimistic that our region's future is bright, but ultimately, how well we do will depend on our success in securing these improvements."

There is now a golden opportunity for the Government to give Yorkshire a fair deal on transport and the Road to Ruin campaign is urging Ministers to take notice.