When Patrick McLoughlin, the Tory Secretary of State for Transport, arrives at Lime Street this morning, the announcement should say “The promises arriving on Platform 7 are five years too late”
For the last two years I have been campaigning for Liverpool to be on the proposed High Speed Network. We need a commitment for Liverpool to be on the HS2 or – even better – HS3 network because it will be vital for our economy and the businesses that are based here, including the new SuperPort.
And yet, time after time, as I gave evidence to the House of Lords, or discussed it with policy experts, or even with Patrick himself, it became obvious that the importance of freight wasn’t even considered as ministers developed plans for HS2.
Meanwhile, the “Northern Powerhouse” is a poor photocopy of the old Northern Way which the regional development agencies developed a decade ago. But it has taken this Government five years to realise the damage they have done by ignoring the North for so long and now they are desperate to look like they care.
In order to rebalance the economy, as those in London keep talking about, we need to rebalance our spending too. On top of losing 58 per cent of our funding, while wealthy areas down south get extra money, we only receive 10 per cent of the transport spending that London gets.
It’s becoming clear that when government ties our hands, they also intend to tie us down to the railway tracks, like an old fashioned movie villain.
Only Labour has promised fairer funding for local government and only Labour has promised an Infrastructure Commission which will take a proper strategic look at what we need everywhere in the country – not just London.
As the Secretary of State gets back on his train to return to Westminster, he should remember that he has seen for himself how transport spending that is bigger in the South than the North is holding us back. It’s important that stupidity doesn’t cause further delay.
Mayor of Liverpool