Budget 2017: Yorkshire risks missing out on transport fund as Chancellor prioritises metro mayors

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Yorkshire risks missing out on much of the Government's promised £1.7bn fund to deliver local transport schemes, as Chancellor Philip Hammond revealed half the total would go to areas with elected metro mayors.

In his Budget speech today, Mr Hammond said he wanted to help people shine "wherever they live" and promised to support the 'Northern Powerhouse' and 'Midlands Engine' schemes.

Chancellor Philip Hammond stands outside Number 11 Downing Street

Chancellor Philip Hammond stands outside Number 11 Downing Street

Budget 2017: Key points from Philip Hammond's announcement
Earlier this week, the Government announced a 1.7bn 'transforming cities fund' to improve transport links and promote local growth within city regions. But Mr Hammond said today that half of the funding would go to the six areas with elected metro mayors, including Greater Manchester and Tees Valley.

He said the remainder would be open to competition to other cities in England. Yorkshire has not yet agreed a devolution deal that would result in the election of a metro mayor, though the Sheffield City Region will hold an election in 2018.

In other announcements relating to the North, Mr Hammond announced £123m in funding for the South Tees Development Corporation,a new devolution deal on North of the Tyne region and £337m for the Tyne & Wear Metro.

A total of £35 million was promised for digital connectivity improvements and infrastructure developments on the Trans-Pennine route between Manchester, Leeds and York.

The Chancellor was under pressure to provide extra funds for housing and the NHS in today's Budget speech.

The Chancellor was under pressure to provide extra funds for housing and the NHS in today's Budget speech.

Leeds and Sheffield will become home to a Tech Hub, supporting businesses and skills in the area to thrive and prosper, as part of a national expansion of the Tech City scheme.

The Budget also contained a £14 million boost to spending on flood defences in the region, building on the £85 million Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme that began in January 2015.

Mr Hammond, said: “Today’s Budget sets out how we will build an economy fit for the future through driving innovation, creating better paid jobs and building the homes this country needs.

“The investments I have announced today back Yorkshire and The Humber with a significant cash boost, while our major commitments on housing and health, training and technology will benefit those right across the region.“

Scale of ambition for Yorkshire

Reacting to the news, Henri Murison, Director of Northern Powerhouse Partnership said: “It is disappointing that Leeds City region and Sheffield City region will not receive a guaranteed allocation from the government cities transport fund.

"I hope these city regions will be successful in the bidding process, with Birmingham’s tram extension an example of the scale of ambition we must have for Yorkshire cities networks.

“Investment in 3G connectivity, trialled across the Pennines, is vital to encourage more business travel by train between Leeds and Manchester by ensuring people can be digitally connected and working as they would at a desk – aided by the Wifi being rolled out gradually on the newly refurbished Siemens trains on the Trans Pennine network.”

The think tank IPPR North wrote in a message on Twitter: "On Transforming Cities Fund announcement- we need to move away from a system where each Chancellor behaves like Santa Claus with special prizes for well-behaved cities and become a modern democracy where cities and regions raise and spend their own tax revenues."

Chris Hearld, KPMG’s North region chair, said: “Investment in infrastructure has long been the foundation upon which the growth of our regional cities, and improvements in our productivity, will be built.

“That half of the new Transforming Cities Fund is to be shared amongst those cities with metro mayors is good news for the two thirds of the Northern Powerhouse that has secured devolution deals.

"Indeed, it’s particularly pleasing to see the massive strides that are taking place in the North East which will be no doubt buoyed by pledges of investment in the Tyne & Wear Metro and the Redcar steelworks.

“However, once again the people of Yorkshire are left counting the cost of their region not being able to get its devolution act together. Being left to compete for its share of investment against the rest of the UK must surely increase the risk of it becoming a straggler in the race for economic growth.”

Chancellor Philip Hammond holding his red ministerial box outside 11 Downing Street, London, before heading to the House of Commons to deliver his Budget. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday November 22, 2017. See PA story BUDGET Main. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

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