Yorkshire left behind on transport investment - report

Ed Cox
Ed Cox
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YORKSHIRE is facing a growing East-West divide on transport investment alongside the longstanding gulf in spending compared to the capital, new figures show.

This region will see transport spending worth £190 per person over the next five years compared to £682 in the North West, according to a report by the IPPR North thinktank.

It suggests that it is the North West that has so far been the major beneficiary of the Government’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ drive to accelerate the economy of the North of England.

The study also underlines how London continues to soak up transport investment at a level that dwarfs the North with spending worth £1,943 per person.

Interview: Transport Secretary Chris Grayling says trans-Pennine links are Government priority

IPPR North director Ed Cox said: “With the government pre-occupied with Brexit, giving more power to regions to take control over infrastructure is key to creating a country that works ‘for everyone’.

“We’re not asking for simple handouts, we’re asking for powers to finance this ourselves as London currently does.

“There is a long, long way to go to rebalance the UK but these figures suggest we’re seeing the green shoots of the Northern Powerhouse idea being more than mere bluster.

“We must however make more progress if we want to see spades in the ground anytime soon.

“Britain is tasked with overhauling our economy after we leave the EU, and our report details how exactly we pay for this vital project – northern prosperity is national prosperity.”

The IPPR report describes the plan for trans-Pennine high speed rail services - known as Northern Powerhouse Rail or HS3 - as the key to rebalancing the economy.

It also calls for the creation of ‘northern infrastructure bonds’ as a vehicle to invest pension funds in transport improvements.

The report recommends Transport for the North, the body responsible for developing major transport projects in the North of England, should be given powers to invest enjoyed by Transport for London.

In an interview with The Yorkshire Post published today, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling defends the spending gap between North and South and insists he is convinced of the case for investing in this region.

He said: “I think people need to understand it depends what projects are happening at any one time,” he said.

“So right now in London Crossrail is being built. It is by far the biggest infrastructure project in the country. That will inevitably skew the figures.

“When we come to build the northern legs of HS2, when we do Northern Powerhouse Rail, indeed as the trans-Pennine rail improvements unfold, that will rebalance.

“It really is just a matter of what is being built at any particular time. It is not a question of any intentional bias by government over one region or another.”

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield said: “This report reveals the miserly level of spending on transport in Yorkshire. It’s appalling that London gets ten times more per head than Yorkshire and tells you everything about the Government’s priorities.

“It makes an utter nonsense of their claims that they are building a Northern Powerhouse. We don’t even have a commitment for the electrification of the Midland Mainline anymore.

“Transport spending is vital for economic growth and jobs. The Government must invest a fair share in our region and commit to vital projects like the electrification of the Midland Mainline. Sheffield and the rest of Yorkshire deserves nothing less.”