Northern leaders will seek to pay part of the cost of Northern Powerhouse Rail, such is their dismay at the “deeply flawed” reviews of the project announced by Westminster last week.
Mayors, municipal leaders and transport chiefs from the northern regions expressed anger at the Integrated Rail Plan, which included plans to sideline a new high-speed line from Manchester to Leeds via Bradford, and a section from Liverpool to Warrington. The eastern stretch of HS2, from the West Midlands to Leeds, was also removed.
Andy Burnham, the Labor mayor of Greater Manchester, said the rail plan was “deeply flawed”. At a Transport for the North meeting in Leeds, Burnham said contributions to the cost of improvements, including the completion of the Northern Powerhouse Rail network, could be derived from rising land values.
“To change the nature of the conversation, I would be willing to consider local contributions or ways to unblock [them] to improve what has been proposed, “he said. “The motion calls for that mediation process to see if there are other solutions, particularly around funding, that will allow that new line through Bradford to come back to the table. I don’t think we can admit defeat on that issue. To do so would be to fail generations in the north of England. We would accept a smaller economy for the North for the rest of our lives. “
The Integrated Rail Plan was announced by Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, last week, and laid out plans for a £ 17.2 billion investment in Northern Powerhouse Rail. The commitment fell far short of the £ 42.1 billion that would have been needed for the plans, presented by Transport for the North, in their entirety.
Under the new plans, some new high-speed tracks will be built, including between Manchester and Huddersfield. A line from Warrington to Manchester will also be built. The transpennine route from York to Manchester will be electrified in 2030-32.
Burnham noted that the construction of Crossrail in the south included local contributions. In London, property developers must pay the mayor’s community infrastructure fee to help finance the project on the basis that such properties would increase in value.
Burnham said, “When you commit to a line, you go up [the] value of part of the land across that line. If Bradford is taken, the value of the land would increase in the center of the city, and other countries around the world would grant powers at the local level to capture that value and help pay for the infrastructure. “
The plans were backed by Don Mackenzie, a conservative North Yorkshire councilor, who previously criticized Labor politicians for making “increasingly well-rehearsed negative statements” about the Integrated Rail Plan.
Hans Mundry, a Warrington councilor, called the plans a “disaster” and said construction of the high-speed rail should have started in the north. “None of this fulfills what they promised us, it delivers parts and pieces. You’ve eaten in the south and we can have what’s left on the table. “
Dan Jarvis, Mayor of South Yorkshire, said: “We still want to advocate for the government to do what it originally promised to do.”
Yesterday Dame Diana Johnson, a Labor MP from Kingston upon Hull North, said in the Commons that the regeneration of cities like Hull and Bradford “will stop for another 20 years, with poor connectivity, low speed and inadequate capacity for passengers and cargo.”
Transport for the North was stripped of its funds by ministers last week. Labor described the move as a “Whitehall takeover” after its furious reaction to plans to demote Northern Powerhouse Rail.
Johnson said: “By removing Transport for the North’s responsibility to develop [Northern Powerhouse Rail], ministers reduce scrutiny and accountability and show no interest in working in partnership with the north. Then, when challenged, the ministers decided to stop the criticism by gutting the powers of Transport for the North and centralizing in Whitehall the responsibility to change the name of the upgrade of the transpennine route. “
Andrew Stephenson, the rail minister, said: “Transport for the North is not a delivery agency and never has been. Its statutory role is purely to develop a strategic transportation plan for the North in the same way that Midlands Connect does for the Midlands. “