Metro areas to get £7 billion transport cash but none for Lancashire

Metro mayors across England - including Greater Manchester - are to be given a share of billions of pounds to help create 'London-style' transport systems.

Saturday, 23rd October 2021, 12:44 pm
Andy Burnham welcomes Government cash to improve transport links

Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said nearly £7 billion would be given by The Treasury to areas such as Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and South Yorkshire for projects ranging from tram improvements to introducing London-style improvements in infrastructure, fares and services.

Authorities like Lancashire and Blackpool will not be entitled to funding this time.

But Coun Charlie Edwards, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport at Lancashire, says the Conservative-led council was putting in bids to the Government all the time and was confident the authority was making a good case for "pots of cash".

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He said: "I welcome any investment for the North West.

"Obviously we didn't get anything this time but we are putting in bids regularly, including for transport.

"There is no point moaning that there is no money for us, we have to be proactive, show the Government we can deliver, and keep putting in the bids.

"I have a series of transport improvements I want to see during my time in office, including restoring the railway link at Fleetwood and rail and road improvements at Lancaster."

https://www.lep.co.uk/news/people/chorley-dragged-into-row-between-two-senior-labour-politicians-over-multi-billion-pound-public-transport-investment-3430387The latest investment from the Government will be seen as a win for Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, who has been heavily lobbying the Government to hand over the cash for his region to launch a London-style transport system.

Labour’s Mr Burnham had called for £1 billion and put pressure on ministers during the Tory Party conference in Manchester earlier this month.

He had said that handing over the money for him to introduce his London-style Bee Network would make political sense for the Government, because Boris Johnson could blame him if it failed and take credit if it succeeded.

And the Treasury has confirmed Greater Manchester will be given £1.07 billion in next week’s Budget and spending review.

The announcement is also being touted as a vote of confidence in the devolution agenda as all those awarded cash are areas with metro mayors.

Mr Burnham said the funding was an “important first step” that “shows the Government is listening to the case that Greater Manchester is making”.

But he said that ongoing revenue funding would also be needed.

“As welcome as it is, infrastructure investment alone will not make levelling up feel real to the people of Greater Manchester.,” he said.

“That will only happen when the frequency and coverage of bus services are increased and fares are lowered to London levels.

“So we are now hopeful that the Government will soon build on this foundation and match this allocation with revenue funding to make our Bee Network vision a reality.”

Elsewhere, there will be £830 million given to West Yorkshire, £570 million in South Yorkshire, £1.05 billion in the West Midlands, £310 million in Tees Valley, £540 million in the West of England and £710 million for the Liverpool City Region.

Some £5.7 billion will be transport settlements for the regions, while £1.2 billion of new funding will go towards transforming bus services to deliver London-style journey times, fares and number of services.

Mr Sunak said: “Great cities need great transport and that is why we’re investing billions to improve connections in our city regions as we level up opportunities across the country.

“There is no reason why somebody working in the North and Midlands should have to wait several times longer for their bus or train to arrive in the morning compared to a commuter in the capital.

“This transport revolution will help redress that imbalance as we modernise our local transport networks so they are fit for our great cities and those people who live and work in them.”

The £5.7 billion is a five-year settlement, and has been increased from the initial £4.2 billion proposed, the Treasury said.

While the £1.2 billion of funding for buses is part of £3 billion that the Prime Minister committed to spending on a “bus revolution” in March.

The Confederation of Passenger Transport, which represents the bus and coach industry, said the fact that the full £3 billion had not been reached yet meant the Government’s “rhetoric is unfortunately not being matched by reality”.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We’re absolutely committed to building back better and boosting regional economies right across the country, and these investments are a clear example of how we’re doing that.

“Modernising our transport network sits at the heart of our levelling up agenda.

“This funding will serve as a catalyst for the regeneration of towns and cities by improving infrastructure and ensuring more people have better access to jobs and education.”