Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

We Need to Get the North Moving More Efficiently, Say Council Leaders

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

We Need to Get the North Moving More Efficiently, Say Council Leaders

Article excerpt

THE leader of Newcastle City Council has joined calls for greater investment in the rail network across the North.

Along with other town hall bosses in the region, Nick Forbes has demanded further infrastructure spending ahead of the autumn statement.

This Wednesday's statement will be Philip Hammond's first major economic intervention since becoming Chancellor of the Exchequer. Councils across the North will be listening closely to determine where the Northern Powerhouse agenda ranks in the new government's list of priorities.

The leaders of Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield council and Labour's mayoral candidates for Manchester and Liverpool, Andy Burnham and Steve Rotherham, have also signed the letter to the chancellor.

In it they state: "We are reaching the point where our motorways across the North are at saturation point.

"Journey times are increasing and capacity on our trains is at the limit.

"Unless we urgently develop a credible plan to get the North moving, we could suffer a loss of confidence from inward investors." Calling for more east-west rail investment to match the HS2 plans, the letter goes on to say: "As representatives from across the North of England, we write to ask you to use your forthcoming Autumn Statement to make a firm commitment to the construction of Northern Powerhouse Rail as a major transport priority for the country, and to set out a clear and expedited timetable for its completion.

"We understand the pressure on resources and that is why we ask you, specifically, to make it a higher investment priority than Crossrail 2. "We struggle to see the justification for prioritising further infrastructure investment in London and the south whilst the North continues to lag behind."

There have been concerns that the Northern Powerhouse agenda may fall down the pecking order following the sidelining of its key architect, George Osborne. …

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