Grahame Morris MP

Member of Parliament for Easington

The North-East’s MPs Joint Letter on Transport Investment in the Region

February 5, 2018 Uncategorized 0

Last week all of Labour’s 26 MPs in the North East sent a joint letter to the Department for Transport calling for the huge funding disparity between London and the North East to be addressed.

Londoners are currently receiving more than twice as much investment in transport as the North of England as a whole. This is completely unacceptable and will inevitably widen regional inequalities – which are already at appalling levels.

A full copy of the letter can be found below:

‘Secretary of State for Transport

Department for Transport

Great Minster House

33 Horseferry Road

London

SW1P 4DR

 

Dear Secretary of State,

We write with reference to the ongoing and chronic and historic underfunding in transport infrastructure across the North East of England.

We note with interest the report published earlier this from the IPPR North titled ‘Future Transport Investment in the North’. As Members of Parliament who represent constituencies across the North East, we are saddened yet unsurprised by the disparity in investment between the North East and other regions across the UK, and London.

The report has highlighted a number of issues which we are keen to see addressed by the Department of Transport in the coming weeks, and we are keen to know what plans your department has to address the inequality in investment going back decades.

The IPPR report, using reports from HM Treasury, notes that if funding between London and the North had been equalised per head of the population over the last five years, the North would have seen a further £36 billion invested in transport infrastructure. London alone received £33.3 billion during the same period, equating to more than double the amount the North received per head of population.

The report has also drawn our attention to the changing way in which the Infrastructure and Projects Authority have calculated future spending, importantly excluding large investment projects in London from their figures.

We believe it cannot be right for the IPA National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline to focus only on the funded directly by Government, which excludes significant investment such as CrossRail, due to the Government’s own financial arrangement with the Greater London Assembly and Transport for London. In addition to this, the Government’s plans for business rates retention fail to include strong and clear mechanism for redistribution – and will only service to increase the inequality in investment in regions such as the North East in its current form.

We acknowledge the additional powers which have very recently been devolved to Transport for the North, however we are concerned that this does not appear to include any additional funding, or powers, by which funding can be raised for investment. The statutory powers handed down to TFN do little more than allow them to advise the Government on infrastructure projects and lack the powers available to TFL to make a real difference. Why is it that constituents in the North East are worth significantly less per head of population compared to constituents in London?

We are concerned that while talk of a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ sounds all well and good, but that without investment to match the rhetoric the people of the North East will continue to view what is being done with extreme scepticism.

If this Government truly believed in the Northern Powerhouse, then it must surely start by addressing the growing gap in investment, and giving the appropriate fund raising powers to TFN would be a good starting point.

The people and the MPs of the North East region want to see additional transport investment, not for its own sake, but because it is desperately needed with rail and road infrastructure that is woefully inadequate by comparison to many places elsewhere.

The analysis of the IPA’s own figures, and figures from HM Treasury are stark. It predicts that spending per head of population up to 2010/21 in the North East will sit at £855.00 compared to London at £4,155.00 for the same period. While the IPA have taken a different approach entirely when looking at HS2 investment, from their own analysis the North East stands to gain £0 from the first phase of HS2 taking us up to 2036.

As local MPs, we see first-hand in our constituencies across the North East the fettering effect poor transport infrastructure has on our hopes for economic growth. We believe that Government has failed to ensure that the North East is not left behind in terms of investment, and we believe that the cynical attempt by the IPA to manipulate the regional investment figures to be extremely concerning

We jointly call on your department and Government to take urgent steps to ensure that funding is not only equalised going forward, but that significant plans are put in place to ensure that levels of funding for the North East are significantly increased to make up for years of neglect from Whitehall. We look forward to receiving your timely response to the issues raised in this letter, and the issue of infrastructure in the North East more widely.’