Speaking in Parliament, Imran has accused the Department for Local Government of ‘stubbornness’ on local devolution, and of holding up progress on unlocking much-needed investment in the region’s transport infrastructure.
At the Autumn Budget 2017, the Chancellor announced the ‘Transforming Cities Fund’ aimed at supporting intra-city transport by improving connectivity and reducing congestion, backed by £1.7 billion of funding. However, whilst half of this funding will automatically be available to the 6 combined authorities with elected metro mayors, areas that do not have devolution agreements will be forced to compete with each other for the remaining funding, with no guarantees being given.
Whilst a wider Yorkshire Devolution proposal has been put forward by many local authority leaders across the county, it has been strongly rejected by Government Ministers at the Department for Local Government who are responsible for overseeing these agreements, and will not be discussed by them further, a decision that Imran labelled in Parliament as ‘stubbornness’ by the Department, and one which is preventing the region from securing further transport funding.
Speaking on the issue, Imran said:
“The North of England receives substantially less funding for investment in transport infrastructure than other areas such as London, so for the Department for Communities and Local Government to stand in the way of discussions on any proposals other than their own preferred agreements isn’t just stubborn, it is detrimental and it is holding up progress on Yorkshire’s transport investment”
“With other regions such as Manchester and Liverpool steaming ahead with investment and additional funding to spend on transport, Yorkshire is at very real risk of being left even further behind, and it is time that Ministers recognise the consensus amongst local authority leaders and sit down and talk through all proposals with them, so that we can get the funding we deserve, and catch up with other cities.
“The Department for Transport must also recognise the particular challenges faced by local authorities within the Yorkshire region, and they must not unfairly penalise those who live and work here and depend on good transport links as they have done in the budget, just because of the stubbornness of Communities and Local Government Ministers, and they must press these colleagues to make progress alongside setting out additional funding to ensure we do not get left behind in the meantime.”