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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2017-29-07

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

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Metro Mayor invites Ministers to:- "hear Northern voices"

THE Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor has responded to accusations from Ministers that Northern Mayors are "scaremongering," by inviting them to attend the proposed Northern Rail Summit next month.  The summit has been called by Northern political and business leaders in response to Government announcements this week cancelling the electrification of the Manchester to Leeds line, whilst affirming support for London's Crossrail 2.

The announcement caused widespread consternation across the Northern regions with political and business leaders expressing concern, whilst influential think tank, IPPR North immediately started an online petition in support of the Northern Powerhouse Rail proposal.

Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, and Northern Powerhouse Minister, Jake Berry, both accused Northern leaders of trying to make political mischief; a claim utterly refuted by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram. "The Government created this situation and the reaction across the North from politicians of all parties, business leaders and wider stakeholders reflects deep-seated unease about the Government's commitment to economic rebalancing. There has been a massive investment bias in favour of London and the South East and unless this is redressed the Northern Powerhouse vision is simply empty rhetoric."

The discrepancy in investment is underlined by the dramatic statistic that over the last 50 years, while rail journey times to London have been cut by half, journey times between Northern cities have hardly improved at all.

Steve Rotheram has written directly to Jake Berry, inviting the Minister to attend the summit which will bring together politicians, businesses and other key stakeholders. He added:- "Maybe something is being lost in translation but Jake Berry and Chris Grayling need to understand that this is not scaremongering but the expression of genuine and well founded concern. I am inviting them to this event so they can hear 1st hand what people in the North think. This is an honest and constructive invitation that gives them a platform to reassure people in the North, and the chance to work out how we can come together to deliver Northern Powerhouse Rail which was, of course, one of the Conservative's major manifesto pledges. To borrow a rail analogy, there is a genuine willingness across our region to get on board with the Northern Powerhouse, but we need Government to be clear about the destination and the timetable."


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