Leaders from across the North of England have called on the Government to commit to a ‘Northern Budget’ in order to deliver a boost to the region’s economic fortunes.
The call, which is backed by members of Transport for the North’s Board, asks the new Government to deliver on commitments previously promised as part of the Northern Powerhouse agenda.
It comes just days after the Chancellor announced a fast-tracked spending round for Government departments for the next year.
Northern leaders are calling for a commitment to three core “asks” for the North of England to get the bare essential in better transport infrastructure in the short, medium and long-term.
It includes a commitment to a £7 billion Northern Infrastructure Pipeline, featuring road and rail projects which could commence in the next five years and have the potential to transform connectivity in the short-term.
The “asks” call on the Government to consider both short and long-term commitments to the North, at both this year’s fiscal event and the longer-term review of infrastructure spending now slated for 2020.
It includes a commitment to a £7 billion Northern Infrastructure Pipeline – a list of shovel –ready road and rail projects to be delivered by the mid-2020s; a commitment to build the full £39 billion Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) network by 2040; and a commitment to £1 billion for Transport for the North over the next three years to deliver on its vision, including funding for the development of Northern Powerhouse Rail and other road and rail schemes.
It follows a pledge by the Prime Minister to turbo-charge infrastructure by delivering a new high-speed rail line between Manchester and Leeds, and his commitment on the campaign trail to be the leader of his party in July, where he said that Transport for the North were: “making a very, very good case here for £39 billion investment in east-west connections from Liverpool to Manchester, Bradford, Leeds”.
“We need to urgently address decades of under-investment in infrastructure in the North which is why we are calling for a Northern Budget to help us rebalance the UK economy and deliver for our communities,” said Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Lead.
“A modern, reliable, quick transport system must be the cornerstone of the economic transformation we and the country need to see in the North.”
Cllr Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council, said: “Today we are on the brink of a once in a lifetime opportunity to build on the strengths northern cities and towns provide. There is the energy to make this happen. Now we need the commitment.
“York, with it’s incredible rail, road and ultra-fibre connectivity is ideally placed to strengthen Yorkshire’s economy. HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and other initiatives to link the east-west of the country by rail are preparing York and the North East to benefit from an improved rail infrastructure.
“By creating nearly 100,000 m2 of high grade commercial space at York Central, we will attract over 6,200 high value jobs into the region. In addition, we have the highest skilled workforce in the North and, as the first gigabit city, some of the fastest download times of any city in the UK outside of London.
“With these ingredients already in place, we are poised to make a significant contribution to the northern powerhouse. By choosing to invest in northern transport and infrastructure, you will unlock York’s considerable strengths, create a more balanced, sustainable economy and enrich the lives of residents across York, Yorkshire and the North East.”