Northern leaders’ tell the PM scaled back rail plans ‘will hold back the North’
Political and business leaders from across the North of England have written to the PM about their concerns over today’s Integrated Rail Plan.
The letter, signed by metro mayors and local authority leaders across Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Cheshire, and West Yorkshire, said the plans risked holding back the regional economies in the region and that this “pared-back plan will not unlock the full potential of the North of England.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the Commons the overhaul will bring faster journeys up to 10 years earlier than planned.
HS2 trains were to run on a new East Midlands-Leeds high-speed line, but will now run on existing routes.
The planned HS2 eastern line to Leeds has been scrapped, with a new route from Warrington to Manchester ending at the “western border” of Yorkshire
The government says it will “study how best to take HS2 trains into Leeds”
Critics have accused the Government of breaking investment promises and not fully considering the advice of independent rail reviews, the ambitions of Northern leaders, and the appeals of its businesses.
The letter said: “Your decision, contrary to your ambition to “level-up” the North, runs the risk of holding back our regional economies and compromising our plans to cut carbon emissions, just days after we hosted COP-26.
“People across the North were excited by your promise of new rail infrastructure and the benefits of a better-connected North – not only quicker travel times but more jobs and homes, new investment and regeneration, and better opportunities for our young people.
“In our view, this pared-back plan will not unlock the full potential of the North of England.
“These decisions go beyond party politics and indeed our generation. They are critical to the future of the North for the next 100 years and more. Given this, we believe elected representatives in all parts of the country should have an opportunity to consider whether your proposals represent a fair deal for their constituents before they are finalised.
“We are therefore asking you to call a free vote on these plans in Parliament. We look forward to your response.”
The letter has been signed by the following business and civic leaders:
Mayor of West Yorkshire
Mayor of Greater Manchester
Mayor of the North of Tyne
Mayor of South Yorkshire
Mayor of the Liverpool City Region
Mayor of Liverpool
Cllr David Baines
Leader of St Helens Council
Leader of Wirral Chamber of Commerce
Cllr Martyn Cox
Leader of Bolton Council
City Mayor of Salford
Cllr Neil Emmott
Leader of Rochdale Council
Cllr Louise Gitting
Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council
Cllr Daren Hale
Leader of Hull City Council
Asif Hamid MBE
Chair of the Liverpool City Region LEP
Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe
Leader of Bradford Council
Cllr Keith Little
Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport
Cumbria County Council
Cllr Ian Maher
Leader of Sefton Council
Chief Executive of Knowsley Chamber of Commerce
Leader of St Helens Chamber of Commerce
Cllr David Molyneux
Leader of Wigan Council
Councillor Graham Morgan
Leader of Knowsley Council
Cllr Eamonn O’Brien
Leader of Bury Council
Chief Executive of Halton Chamber of Commerce
Cllr Shabir Pandor
Leader of Kirklees Council
Cllr Arooj Shah
Leader of Oldham Council
Cllr Brenda Warrington
Leader of Tameside Council
Cllr Andrew Western
Leader of Trafford Council
Cllr Mike Wharton
Leader of Halton Council
Cllr Janette Williamson
Leader of Wirral Council
Cllr Elise Wilson
Leader of Stockport Council
Sir Richard Leese
Leader of Manchester City Council