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Bill Esterson MP blasts broken promises on Northern Powerhouse Rail and repeats warnings of threat to Rimrose Valley Country Park

SEFTON Central MP, Bill Esterson has again called out the Government for the downgrading of Northern Powerhouse Rail that he says has:- "left residents at the mercy of a new road through the Rimrose Valley Country Park" and "increased air pollution due to a reduction in freight capacity."

MP Esterson told the media that:- "This latest betrayal of the North by the Government will mean less freight not more travelling by rail from the Port of Liverpool. What that means is more freight travelling by road on polluting vehicles that damage the health and reduce life expectancy of those living nearby. The Government has never looked seriously at rail as an alternative to a new road through the Rimrose Valley. This is levelling down not levelling up."

Under the plans, the line from Liverpool to Manchester will be upgraded rather than a new line built. This will result in years of disruption for rail passengers and freight, and will not increase capacity, which is already running at close to maximum. During the construction period there will be 88 fewer freight trains a week out of the Liverpool City Region. That could put more than 1,000 extra trucks on the road.

Mr Esterson said:- "Not only will this extra road freight be extremely damaging in the short term, the real risk is that in the long term the freight doesn't ever return to rail. All to save ₤4bn that would have been recouped over the long term due to the boost to the economy. This is completely blinkered from the Conservative Government and, compared to road and rail upgrades the South will enjoy, it will leave the North at an even greater economic disadvantage. The Conservatives promised a new rail network for the North from Liverpool to Hull in 2014. Boris Johnson confirmed the promise in 2019. In 2017, Rishi Sunak said, 'We in the North need the Government to back Northern Powerhouse Rail. Rishi Sunak is an MP in the North of England and presumably he thought he was standing up for his constituents when he made his comments in 2017. Today, Mr Sunak is Chancellor of the Exchequer, has broken the promise made by his Government and has betrayed the people of the North of England, including his own constituents and the people of Sefton who desperately need a rail link to the Port of Liverpool."

Merseyside's Police Commissioner responds to Budget 2021

MERSEYSIDE'S Police Commissioner has today welcomed the news that the public sector pay freeze will be lifted, but warned that new money must be provided to cover any pay rise. Emily Spurrell said:- "I welcome the news that the public sector pay freeze will be lifted. The hard working staff of Merseyside Police deserve a proper pay rise after almost a decade of real terms pay cuts and they are entitled to an increase which is over inflation. However, I am deeply concerned that no new money has been promised to fund any pay rise. Any pay increase must be properly funded, and it must come from Central Government. As is stands, it seems very likely the Treasury is either expecting it to come out of our existing Police budgets or out of the pockets of local people. This would ultimately have a negative impact on the hard working families in our communities. I will continue to urge the Government to ensure this money is found centrally to avoid causing further damage to our Police or to our communities. By doing so, they can show they genuinely care about public servants and the vital services they provide. I will be taking a further look at the detail announced in the budget today and looking for further clarification in the Policing Settlement which will be announced in December."

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