George Osborne, British Chancellor, has been urged to use his Budget to devolve a £15 billion package in order to enhance the north’s transport network and bring greater balance to the UK economy, according to a study from think-tank IPPR North.
The report, entitled “Transport for the North” says that the region needs greater autonomy over transport, and should form its own body to oversee transportation issues.
This body would be accountable to local authorities across the North West, the North East, Yorkshire, and the Humber, and would be responsible for all aspects of the transport infrastructure including rail, road, sea and air transport. This would also include planning for further investment, franchising and ticketing.
To ensure that this project is successful, IPPR North say that Osborne must use his Budget to invest £15 billion into One North infrastructure priorities that were brought forward by northern cities in 2014 as part of the so-called “HS3” initiative.
It is expected that these projects would dramatically improve road and rail links between key northern hubs, from Liverpool, to Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle.
Ed Cox, director of IPPR North, said:
“Northern transport infrastructure is dated, poorly integrated and lacking the large-scale investment it needs, but Transport for the North could be at the vanguard of a coherent economic plan that will fire up the Northern Powerhouse.
“Devolving transport powers and budget to the north will help transform the region’s growth prospects and rebalance the economy. What we now need to see is the warm words on northern growth translated into firm commitments to make this vision for a modern transport network a reality.
“An initial investment is needed, but this is about the north shaping its destiny through devolution of powers. The Budget is an opportune moment to spell out the extent of the party’s ambitions for northern prosperity.”
Words: Peter Cribley