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Regional backlash over ‘One North’ plans for rail upgrades

The ‘One North’ plans for £15bn of infrastructure improvements, focusing on improved road and rail links and potentially a new trans-Pennine ‘HS3’, have sparked a backlash from other areas fearing they will miss out.

The plans, launched this week in Manchester at an event attended by the chancellor, George Osborne, were developed by leaders in Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield.

But former Hull East MP and deputy PM Lord Prescott said: “How can a deal called One North leave miles out east of the Pennines? It's almost like starting the Wars of the Roses again.”

“I will be writing to George Osborne to correct his impression of the north.

“I'm going to go and see the Manchester people to tell then the final report must reflect the whole north.”

The Hull Daily Mail said: “The first thing you notice reading the 35-page One North report published this week is how few mentions there are for this particular corner of the North…True, there is the odd reference to the Humber ports…However, for the most part Hull and the Humber are largely absent.”

Hull City Council leader Steve Brady was more positive, saying he welcomed the One North plans and said it would unclog transport bottlenecks affecting Hull and the Humber and boost growth.

The One North plans have also been labelled “insulting in the extreme” to Teesside. Middlesbrough Labour MP Andy McDonald said it “doesn’t pay any regard to Teesside and the Tees Valley”, adding: “We are completely overlooked. We are a massive contributor to GDP, but this does nothing to help us. If they want to include us then they can have our input. They need to come back to us and say we want your input and we will do that – and I’m going to make sure we are heard.”

Tees Valley Unlimited (TVU), which wants enhanced East Coast services at Darlington and the introduction of new services between Middlesbrough and London as part of the new franchise from 2015, is also disappointed.

The Evening Gazette in Middlesbrough reported TVU managing director Stephen Catchpole as saying: “The One North proposition appears to be at a very high level without any detailed explanation of how the supposed benefits would be achieved. Perhaps this is understandable at this stage.

“It is disappointing that despite all the excellent joint working that has been carried out in the north-east region on rail issues culminating in the North East Rail statement published in the last two weeks or so that no discussion on the One North proposition has been undertaken with the Tees Valley."

The extent of the potential investment in the north of England, on top of existing schemes like the Northern Hub, is also grabbing attention in Wales, where campaigners and politicians have long been angry at the amount of money going on schemes like HS2 and Crossrail offering few benefits to Wales. The Welsh and UK governments have also been arguing over the funding of the electrification of routes in Wales.

Plaid Cymru Treasury spokesman Jonathan Edwards says the Welsh Government should receive £2bn-£4bn to balance out the money being spent on HS2. Wales Online reported comments from a speech made by Edwards, in which he said: “We’re talking here about billions and billions of pounds... We need to win a political argument between now and then which sets in stone that when you have an England-only infrastructure development funded through public money then that leads to fair funding for Wales automatically. The Treasury can’t get away with their old trick of labelling England-only infrastructure projects UK-wide projects.”

The DfT says Wales will benefit from the knock-on effects of HS2, such as shorter journey times into London via Birmingham, and better connectivity from the Great Western Main Line at Old Oak Common.

(Image of Humber Bridge: Bill Richards. Creative Commons).

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Lesf   08/08/2014 at 14:41

This inevitable squabble illustrates the futility of trying to catch votes by publishing a localised plan to please a few people. It needs a comprehensive national plan, not repeated punts at resolving the deficiencies of HS2. And why is the Chancellor doing it? If it was genuine it would be presented by Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Transport. Stick to fiddling the statistics George and leave railways to those who understand them.

John Jessop   08/08/2014 at 16:01

The HS2 is political and a waste of money. The roads in many places,M62, A1 north of Newcastle, the Newcastle western by-pass and many other are vastly under capacity and are being ignored. To spend some £60b on less than 5% of the traveling public is wrong.

Jak Jaye   08/08/2014 at 16:25

Only one answer nationalize the whole railway and get all the pigs noses out of the gravy train trough oh and dig up Beeching and Wilson and hang them both from a tree because without them we'd have enough of a network to cater for all this.

Saor Alba   08/08/2014 at 17:25

This is great news for one region, but now that the North stops at Liverpool/Leeds/Manchester, I wonder what additional investment will be coming to the 'true north', i.e. Scotland through the Barnett Consequentials?

Jb   09/08/2014 at 15:24

Instead of building this hugely expensive and exclusive HS2 railway, would it not be better to initiate a reversal of the Beeching cuts? This would lead to much better connectivity and capacity increase at a fraction of the cost of HS2. Of course, by all means improve existing infrastructure where desirable but let's not forget 'prudence'.

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