Comment: The North needs to make a stand

Sean Bean in Game of Thrones... he epitomised Northern honour
Sean Bean in Game of Thrones... he epitomised Northern honour
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I don’t want to get all Game of Thrones on you but The North needs to make a stand.

Not only have they (the Southrons) just completed the multi-billion pound Crossrail project than they are already backing the equally expensive Crossrail 2.

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on saying it: that’s precisely what we need. That is the solution to our transport problems. Not congestion charges, not cycle lanes. Anything else is like trying use sticking plasters to plug a hole in a submarine.

And yet what do we get? Well, what we get is a diktat from Downing Street that we must cut congestion (or bring in more taxes) and a few crumbs flicked nonchalantly from the table for us all to fight over.

Of course, I’m talking about plans to charge people to drive on congested roads in Leeds, a scheme the Government has offered the paltry sum of £225m to fund. But hang on a minute... they’ve just given £1bn to the DUP for goodness sake. They found that pretty quick and without too much trouble.

They have only just (and reluctantly) dropped plans to create the £200m Garden Bridge. Incidentally, the Government has cut Leeds City Council’s funding by about £200m since 2011.

A recent study by the Institute of Public Policy Research North, showed Yorkshire and the Humber would have received £59bn more in infrastructure spending over the last decade if spending per person had matched that of London. Just think about that for a moment. We could have undergrounds in Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield and right across to Manchester (or even Liverpool) for that. Anyway, the point is this: Anything for London.

You want an expensive, bells-and-whistles new underground system? Done. Oh, what’s that, you want another one? Done. But what about us?

Basically, they want us all out of our cars, standing for hours waiting for a bus or getting drenched in the rain riding bikes. The only problem with that is the good people of London live in a different world: they have the London Underground, one of the most efficient and convenient transport systems in the world.

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on saying it: that’s precisely what we need. That is the solution to our transport problems. Not congestion charges, not cycle lanes. Anything else is like trying use sticking plasters to plug a hole in a submarine.

Recent news that Northern leaders are to convene a war council to discuss the other news the Government slipped out - that we may no longer get Trans-Pennine rail electrification - is to be welcomed.

It’s a start and if it succeeds, we must maintain the momentum and push for more funding not just for transport but right across the board, to finally give Northerners a fair deal.

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