Professor Colin Bamford gives his view on the lack of progress to the Northern Powerhouse and says Yorkshire is not getting the deal it needs to be the catalyst for growth in the national economy.
“To many of us, the idea of a Northern Powerhouse is starting to pale. Why is this?
For a start, there were no more than four or five words in support of the Northern Powerhouse in the Conservative’s election manifesto. (After all it was George Osborne’s idea). Second, in the new government, there was a new minister, Jake Berry MP for Rossendale and Darwen, the third in three years. Thirdly, and very significant, the most recent announcements on transport spending have provided a major setback.
On 20 July, Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, unveiled plans to cut back on projects to electrify railways in three regions, the north of England included. One casualty is a ‘watering down’ of the already ‘paused’ electrification of the line between Manchester and Leeds via Huddersfield. This project is seen as vital to the realisation of the Northern Powerhouse and regional growth. The government’s preferred option is to use smart technology and new bi-mode trains that run on diesel and electricity. No more details were provided except to say that full electrification of lines was no longer necessary. And what about HS3?
To further infuriate folk up north, it was announced that £31bn is to be allocated to Crossrail 2, another new underground line for London. This means that projected transport capital spending to 2021 for Yorkshire and Humber will be just 10% of that allocated to London. For the North West, the percentage is much greater at around 25%. Even so, hardly an endorsement for the Northern Powerhouse.
One bit of good news (for some) is the route that has been announced also at the end of July for phase 2 of the HS2 network. One surprise is that the line will terminate at Wigan, along with Manchester, as the north west termini. In contrast, Sheffield and Chesterfield will only be served by HS2 services on the existing network. Spare a thought though for those families on the Shimmer housing estate in Mexborough whose homes will be either destroyed or blighted to make way for HS2.
In all of this, there seems to be growing evidence that the Northern Powerhouse, and its Yorkshire arm especially, is not getting the deal it needs to be the catalyst for growth in the national economy.”
You can read more on the story in the Independent.