Political and business Leaders from across major Northern cities are to meet for the first time in Leeds today to demand a fair deal on transport from the Government.
The unprecedented gathering comes following widespread confusion and anger after the Transport Secretary cast doubt over long promised improvements to Northern railways.
Since Chris Grayling made his announcement around 70,000 people have signed an IPPR petition calling on the Government to immediately commit to East to West Crossrail for the North, also known as HS3 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, and to billions of pounds of ‘catch-up cash’ for Northern transport infrastructure.
The meeting also comes one day after civic leaders, businesses and former Chancellor George Osborne called on the Government to back East to West Northern Powerhouse Rail, connecting the cities of the North, in Autumn’s budget.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, business and civic Leaders said that the investment in Northern transport is ‘not only fundamental to the success of the Northern Powerhouse, it is fundamental to the success of the entire country.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “Today’s event shows that the patience of people in the North of England has run out. We are getting organised and demanding the Government keeps all of its promises to people here and delivers a fair funding deal for the North of England.
“We are not against our capital city developing world class infrastructure but it cannot be at the expense of the North. People here have put up with clapped out trains and congested roads for long enough
“The fact we have such strong private sector support at this event shows that this not about party politics but civic and business leaders uniting to get fair deal for the North.
“The Government needs to show it is serious about rebalancing and revitalising our economy. We need to see clear prioritisation and a timetable for Crossrail for the North from the Government as well as other vital transport improvements going ahead as soon as possible.”
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Northern transport has suffered from underinvestment relative to London and the South East for decades. The government has acknowledged that improved transport links between our great northern cities, as well as HS2, is fundamentally important to unlocking the full potential of the North of England, supporting jobs and growth which will be even more vital in a post-Brexit landscape. As northern leaders we will keep up the pressure for a fair deal for the region.”
The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, Liverpool city region mayor Steve Rotheram, and the leaders of Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle and Manchester councils will all be in attendance at the Summit.
Alongside Political Leaders, the summit will also bring together a range of business groups including Downtown in Business, the Northern Business Improvement Districts, Chambers of Commerce, the Federation of Small Business (FSB), and the Institute of Directors (IoD).