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Launch of £15bn transport blueprint across the North UPDATED

PIC: Gabriel Szabo/Guzelian

PIC: Gabriel Szabo/Guzelian

CHANCELLOR George Osborne will unveil a plan to add £56 billion to the North economy as the centrepiece of his Autumn Statement.

In a speech this morning, Mr Osborne promised a “long term economic plan” to create a “Northern Powerhouse” bringing together proposals on transport, science and the way regions run their affairs.

He was speaking at an event which saw Sheffield and Leeds join other major cities to unveil a proposal to transform the North’s transport network.

The One North report calls on the Government to spend £15bn over 15 years on schemes including a 125 mph transpennine rail link that would reduce rail journey times between Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester to 30 minutes alongside further electrification and new trains for the existing rail network.

Building the planned HS2 high speed rail line from the North and the South simultaneously and improving connections between cities that will be served directly by the line and other areas are among the other main recommendations.

The 15-year investment plan also calls for the creation of new freight and logistics terminals as well as improved access to ports and spending on “managed motorways”.

Mr Osborne welcomed the report and said the Treasury would now work on delivering its “component parts” as part of a wider vision for the North he will set out in the autumn.

He told northern council leaders: “Work with me over the coming months and together we will make a reality of the plan I’ve set out for the Northern Powerhouse.

“I’m ready to commit new money, new infrastructure, new transport and new science. And real new civic power too.

“Today I’m setting out the Pathway to this Northern Powerhouse, so we deliver a real improvement in the long term economic performance of the north of England.

“This will be a centrepiece of my Autumn Statement - and part of our long term economic plan for the country.”

Mr Osborne said he believed over the next two decades the North’s GDP could be increased to match that of the country as a whole, adding £56bn to the economy of the North.

The Chancellor said the coming months would see the publication of reports on scientific research in the North and proposals from Sir David Higgins, the chairman of HS2, on bringing the benefits of high speed rail to the North more quickly.

He pledged to bring those together with the One North report to set out a vision for the northern economy in his Autumn Statement which will also include “a major transfer of powers and budgets to cities in the north, who want to move to a new model of city government”. Mr Osborne has previously suggested more areas should have elected mayors on a model similar to London.

The One North report was put together by Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle with support from Hull, Bradford, Wakefield and York.

Leeds City Council leader Keith Wakefield said: “Getting the right investment in our transport systems would deliver unprecedented change to better connect people and jobs, which is crucial if we also want to rebalance the national economy.

“This report demonstrates once again that only through tackling our out-dated transport system will the North be able to fulfil its true economic potential, benefiting our own local communities and the country as a whole.

“HS2, supported by strong regional transport networks, has the potential to bring transformational regeneration and investment to many of our cities and city regions.

“Building from the North would increase the pace of that change while at the same time delivering much needed jobs, apprenticeships and training opportunities.”

The One North plan is the latest contribution to the debate on growing the economy of the North which has risen rapidly up the political agenda in recent weeks with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband following Mr Osborne in setting out their visions.

Sheffield City Council leader Julie Dore said: “Transforming the connections between our great Northern cities is vital if we are to make the most of our unlocked economic potential.

“For years our transport network has been far too slow and inferior compared to London and the south east.

“This report outlines the steps we need to put this right but we need the tools to make this happen.”

 

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