‘An at­tack on Lon­don does north no good’

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ALIB Dem Lord has warned north­ern lead­ers to ‘stop at­tack­ing Lon­don’ as it won’t help cities like Manch­ester get the progress they need.

At an event bring­ing to­gether lead­ers from across the north, Lord John Ship­ley told a con- fer­ence hall in New­cas­tle: “I don’t think we need to be at­tack­ing Lon­don.

“A lot of our tax rev­enues come from Lon­don.”

Re­fer­ring to the calls for rail links be­tween north­ern cities to be pri­ori­tised over Cross­rail Two – a route across Lon­don – he said the cap­i­tal had ‘done a good job’ plan­ning the line.

He also called on the north to ‘stop wish-list­ing’, adding: “The north needs to take re­spon­si­bilty.

“With power comes re­spon­si­bil­ity and the need to know where money is com­ing from.”

He said there needed to be a de­bate about how the north raises its own money be­cause the govern­ment is in so much debt.

In re­sponse, Andy Burn­ham, Greater Manch­ester Mayor, ac­cepted l● that north­ern lead­ers could some­times ‘have a chip on their shoul­der’ about Lon­don.

Com­par­isons be­tween Manch­ester and Lon­don have been fre­quent in re­cent years – mostly due to the fund­ing gap be­tween the cap­i­tal and the north of the coun­try.

An anal­y­sis by the think­tank IPPR North found that the north of Eng­land has missed out on £63bn in trans­port in­vest­ment over the past decade, with Lon­don get­ting £419 more per head ev­ery year.

Later, Richard Leese, leader of Manch­ester coun­cil, our sis­ter pa­per the M.E.N: “Is na­tional fund­ing dis­trib­uted well?

“There should al­ways be a de­bate about that and the north has clearly been un­der-in­vested in.

“I think the point John Ship­ley was mak­ing was sim­ply mov­ing the deckchairs around is not the right an­swer.

“Lon­don is re­ally im­por­tant to the econ­omy for the UK, us try­ing to do them down is not go­ing to help us in the long-run.”

But he said the im­bal­ance be­tween Lon­don and Manch­ester had to be ad­dressed, adding: “Part of the rea­son there isn’t the right bal­ance is not that Lon­don’s got too much, it’s that we’ve got too lit­tle.”

He added: “I think his­tor­i­cally north­ern lead­ers have had a chip on their shoul­der about Lon­don. But I think we’ve started to change that over the last few years.”

He said the de­vo­lu­tion of power be­ing led from the north had also helped, adding: “I think we are far more con­fi­dent, far more as­sertive, we know that we are ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing and we are pre­pared to be bold in how we de­liver.

“I think we see that par­tic­u­larly in Greater Manch­ester around what we are try­ing to do around health and so­cial care.”

He said some parts of the re­gion still ‘thought in terms of de­pen­dency’ – think­ing ‘de­ci­sions had to be made for them’.

But he in­sisted the north had to take the reins to get ‘power over money’, adding: “Trains came up a lot this morn­ing, we’ve re­ally seen prob­lems over the last few months about what cen­tralised con­trol had done to our rail net­work and we do need to con­tinue on that jour­ney, re­ally demon­strat­ing to govern­ment about how things could work bet­ter – in­clud­ing for them – if more de­ci­sions were taken here.”

Lord Ship­ley was ap­pointed Spokesper­son for Com­mu­ni­ties, De­cen­tral­i­sa­tion and the North­ern Pow­er­house in 2015. He was speak­ing at the Con­ven­tion of the North, where busi­ness, pri­vate sec­tor and vol­un­tary lead­ers dis­cussed the de­vo­lu­tion of power to north­ern cities to cre­ate a more pow­er­ful re­gion. SOME BBC ad­min­is­tra­tive staff spent nearly £60,000 on taxis to and from their of­fices in Sal­ford Quays in two years, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures ob­tained by the M.E.N.

One fare alone amounted to £637.

Our fig­ures show that the di­rec­tor gen­eral’s of­fice and other ad­min­is­tra­tive and tech­ni­cal de­part­ments spent £34,111 on taxi rides to and from Me­di­aCi­tyUK in 2016/17 and then £25,579 in 2017/18.

In 2016/17, the most ex­pen­sive taxi ride cost £637.

This was said to be a ‘wait and re­turn’ jour­ney from Lon­don to Sal­ford Quays for seven in a peo­ple car­rier booked be­cause it was cheaper than seven re­turn rail fares.

The most ex­pen­sive fare in 2017/18 was from Sal­ford Quays to the Chor­ley area and cost £98. These taxi rides were paid for via the BBC’s cen­tralised book­ing sys­tems, and do not in­clude jour­neys claimed by staff through their ex­penses.

But the over­all taxi bill will be much higher.

The BBC has re­fused to re­veal how much it spends on fares for other de­part­ments, ar­gu­ing it was ex­empt from be­ing re­leased as it con­cerned ‘art, jour­nal­ism or lit­er­a­ture’.

A BBC spokesper­son said: “We are al­ways mind­ful of costs and have strict guide­lines in place, how­ever as a 24-hour broad­caster we will in­evitably have some travel re­lated costs.

“Over­all we have cut costs and made sig­nif­i­cant man­age­ment sav­ings so 95 per cent of the money we con­trol is spent on what mat­ters most – the con­tent and ser­vices our au­di­ences love.” TELE­PHONE: www. glos­sop­car­a­vans. co. uk

Lord John Ship­ley ad­dresses the con­fer­ence

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