Editor's Blog

Stop short-changing the North

“Westminster has failed the North.”

Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, wasn’t holding back as he prepared to join political and business leaders from across the region at a summit in Leeds to demand a fair deal on transport from the Government.

The Greater Manchester mayor added that “people have put up with clapped-out trains and congested roads for long enough" and that the summit shows "the patience of people in the north of England has run out".

Well, quite frankly, who can blame them?

Just last month transport secretary Chris Grayling threw the long-promised electrification of the Manchester to Leeds route into doubt. Then, within days of that, he announced his backing for the new £30bn Crossrail 2 in London.

Figures from the Institute for Public Policy Research think-tank show that there is £3,400  of transport funding per head in London, while the figure in the north is just £427.

No wonder Northerners are feeling short-changed by the Government.

Former chancellor George Osborne has also weighed in, calling for the Government to plan a so-called High Speed 3, a Northern Powerhouse rail network connecting Liverpool to Hull. The Northern Powerhouse was Osborne’s pet project as chancellor, but since Theresa May became PM the scheme has not so much fallen by the wayside as been tied up in a sack and thrown in the Thames.

Transforming rail connections across the North was part of the original Northern Powerhouse plan and was estimated to bring £100bn in economic growth as well as 850,000 new jobs.

Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake says that the North is demanding a direct commitment from Government to increase investment in transport and “to settle for any less would hold back the potential of the north for decades to come."

The impact of all of this on our industry is fairly obvious. Better transport links make attending conferences and events easier and more enjoyable. Venues attract more business, which encourages growth. It’s not rocket science.

The North is home to some of the UK’s greatest meetings and event destinations; but it could be home to more. The full conferencing potential of the North is yet to be unleashed and transport will play a key role. Hopefully the summit in Leeds will provide the impetus needed to get the investment our industry in the region so badly needs – and deserves.

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