Just £150 more per person will help narrow the North/South divide, says Leeds council leader

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Leeds’s council leader has hit out at the “unacceptable gulf” between transport spending in the region and London - and says it will cost the Government just £150 per person to help bridge it.

Judith Blake was speaking in the wake of renewed calls on Ministers to finally commit to “big, transformative” transport projects in the North instead of disputing claims about decades of under-funding for infrastructure in the region.

The calls were led by think tank IPPR North, which said in a new report published today that without significant investment and new powers for northern transport bodies similar to those enjoyed in London, “we will continue to live in a nation which is dangerously unbalanced”.

The think-tank’s analysis claims that from 2017/18 onwards, planned transport infrastructure spending per person will be five times higher in London than in Yorkshire and the Humber, whose total of £844 is the lowest of all English regions.

Councillor Blake, speaking for regional supercouncil the West Yorkshire Combined Authority on transport, said: “We have always been clear that improving transport is key to rebalancing the economy.

“These figures reveal the unacceptable continuing gulf between how much is spent in our region compared to the capital and illustrate just how far the Northern Powerhouse vision is from being realised unless this fundamental issue is addressed.

“By highlighting the stark comparison between transport spending in our region and the capital, this report also serves to underline the relatively modest £150-per-head costs of Transport for the North’s proposals to invest across the North of England including creating Northern Powerhouse Rail or CrossRail for the North.”

However a Government spokesperson said IPPR’s calculations were “completely misleading” and that spending for the North is actually set to receive more investment per person (£1,039) than the South (£1,029).