Mayor fails to get assurance on rail upgrade
AMEETING between the chancellor and Andy Burnham has failed to provide assurances on northern transport investment, according to Greater Manchester’s mayor.
Mr Burnham has now called on Phillip Hammond to give concrete commitments to extensive rail upgrades at his speech to Tory conference in Manchester next month, adding that the region needed to ‘see the colour of his money.’
The mayor was speaking after meeting with Mr Hammond – alongside other northern mayors – to discuss closing the northsouth divide.
He said the chancellor was ‘listening,’ calling that a ‘step forward,’ but said until firm promises were given on electrification, a new east-west rail link and the expansion of Piccadilly station, he would be ‘keeping up the pressure’ – adding that Mr Hammond should use Tory conference to prove his commitment.
“That’s an obvious opportunity, isn’t it, for the chancellor to stand up in Manchester and really show that he’s committed to the Northern Powerhouse,” he said.
“We didn’t hear it today, but we hope to hear it in due course.”
Mr Hammond continued to insist at the meeting that government policy on Transpennine electrification had not changed, said Mr Burnham, while also repeating Chris Grayling’s statement that some of the line may not need electrifying. So ‘which is it’ is my point to the chancellor,” he said. “The government does need to clear this up, this uncertainty. He needs to provide clarity sooner or later with regard to transport investment in the north of England.
“The public here have waited long enough for improvement and it’s our job to speak for the people here and demand that investment and make sure we get what we were promised.”
Mr Burnham said Mr Hammond had ‘made a clear statement that the Northern Powerhouse is very much part of the government’s agenda.’
“But in truth we didn’t see the colour of his money today and until we do we will keep up the pressure,” he said.
●●Vjala Khaleeq, aged 7; Wijdan Khaleeq, aged 8 and Ayaan Khaleeq, aged 3, at the Eid celebrations at the Wheatsheaf shopping centre
●●Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, left, met chancellor Philip Hammond
●●Pola Szarmach, aged five, joins in