Mayor fails to get as­sur­ance on rail up­grade

Rochdale Observer - - ROCHDALE PEOPLE YOUR ART COMPETITION YOUR PET HOME - Jen­nifer.wil­ @jen­williams­men

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

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