UK Politics

North should 'take control' of transport, says Grayling

Rail passengers at Manchester Piccadilly station Image copyright Transport for Greater Manchester

The north of England's leaders should "take control" of their own transport networks, Chris Grayling has said.

Writing in the Yorkshire Post, the transport secretary said: "The success of northern transport depends on the North itself."

The article comes ahead of a transport summit in the region to be attended by local leaders and businesses.

But Liverpool regional mayor Steve Rotheram accused him of an "abdication of responsibility".

He added: "I would like to thank him for acting as a catalyst to get business leaders and political leaders so incensed and wound up that they now are speaking with one voice."

And Sheffield City Council leader Julie Dore said the remarks showed "quite clearly his particular contempt for the North of England".

The transport summit comes a day after former Chancellor George Osborne called for "HS3" high-speed rail lines between Liverpool and Hull.

In the article, Mr Grayling said whilst one of his "biggest priorities" was to build transport links in the North, it was down to the region to design and manage them.

He wrote: "It is central government's responsibility to provide funding and a delivery structure that ensures efficiency, value for money and accountability.

"But, beyond this, I want the North to take control."

'Expense of the North'

The summit, being held in Leeds on Wednesday, has been described by organisers as an "unprecedented gathering" of leaders from councils and businesses who want more investment in local infrastructure.

It follows the announcement from the government last month that it was scrapping the planned electrification of railway lines in Wales, the Midlands and the north of England.

Days later, Mr Grayling then backed proposals for Crossrail 2 - a new line linking north-east and south-west London.

Image copyright HS2
Image caption Leeds will be one of the two northern terminuses of the HS2 high-speed link

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said the government needed to do more for the region.

"We are getting organised and demanding the government keeps all of its promises to people here and delivers a fair funding deal for the north of England," he said.

"We are not against our capital city developing world-class infrastructure, but it cannot be at the expense of the North.

"People here have put up with clapped-out trains and congested roads for long enough."

'Getting on with the work'

Leader of Leeds City Council Judith Blake added: "The people of the North are demanding a direct commitment from the government to increase investment in transport and to settle for any less would hold back the potential of the North for decades to come."

But Transport Minister Paul Maynard said funding had been provided for the development of detailed proposals for transport upgrades which the government could invest in.

He said: "I keep hearing demands for investment in the North but I should point out they come from some of the very same people who we have asked to help develop plans.

"We all want to improve rail in the North and we are all getting on with the work that needs to be done."

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