Speaking in Parliament, Imran Hussain, MP for Bradford East, urged the Minister for Transport to look closely at the alternative funding plans set out by the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, to get Northern Powerhouse Rail built in full from Leeds to Manchester through Bradford.
Under the full Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) plans, a new high-speed, high-capacity rail line similar to HS2 and the Crossrail network in London which formally opened this week would have been built between Manchester and Leeds, with a stop at a new Bradford city centre station. However, despite support from local leaders, businesses and rail experts, these plans were scrapped last November by the Government in their Integrated Rail Plan, much to the anger of Imran and others across the North.
Following the Government’s decision to scrap NPR, proposals were set out by the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, to raise funding using a similar model to that used to help build the £19 billion Crossrail network. These plans would see the costs of NPR met by a business rates supplement on larger properties and developer contributions alongside central government funding.
Urging the Rail Minister to look at these proposals in Transport Parliamentary Questions yesterday, Imran pointed out the success in building other transport infrastructure projects and the disparity in support between projects in London and projects in places like Bradford, but was rebuffed by the Minister who failed to commit to looking at realistic alternative proposals.
Speaking on his call for the Government to look at Andy Burnham’s alternative funding proposals, Imran said:
“Building Northern Powerhouse in full from Leeds to Manchester through Bradford, as was promised by Ministers on several occasions, would have been transformational for Bradford’s local economy by helping to attract new investment into the District. Yet once more, Ministers chose their own short-term interests over long term benefits for people in the North, and abandoned Bradford in their rail infrastructure plans.
“We simply cannot carry on being treated as just a suburb of Leeds by this Tory Government rather than the country’s seventh-largest and most youthful and vibrant city, and we desperately need and deserve the investment that is given to other parts of the country, such as London who this week opened the £19 billion Crossrail development running through the capital.
“I am deeply disappointed that rather than pump the same investment that major transport infrastructure projects in London have seen into Bradford and the rest of the North by delivering NPR, Ministers have instead given us a disjointed collection of different schemes, and I am further disappointed that whilst presented with an alternative funding plan by the Manchester Mayor to get NPR built, the Minister brushed aside calls to even look at it yesterday in Parliament.”