Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin attended the first Transport for the North meeting, held in Leeds, on January 12, and took the opportunity to urge the north to speak with one voice.
Northern leaders met to discuss their plans to transform the region into a northern powerhouse. The inaugural meeting heralded the first step of drawing up with the Government a comprehensive transport strategy to transform the north’s economic infrastructure and help maximise the region’s growth potential, rebalancing the national economy.
As well as examining east-west rail links to better connect the north, Transport for the North will look at everything from roads, ports and airports to broadband.
McLoughlin said: “Rebalancing the economy and creating a northern powerhouse of jobs, investment, prosperity and bright futures, is a key objective of the Government’s long term economic plan.
“It is crucial we work together to deliver a world-class, integrated transport network for the north that reduces journey times, increases capacity and connectivity and enables growth.
“We have already made great strides and the creation of Transport for the North is an excellent next step. I want Transport for the North to speak with one voice to government on the big decisions to benefit the region as a whole.”
Leader of Manchester City Council Sir Richard Leese chaired the meeting. He said: “Economic growth doesn’t happen by accident, it happens by design and having the right integrated infrastructure in place is vital for us to generate that growth.”
Transport for the North is now charged with drawing up a bold delivery programme to make that vision real in the next 15 years. It is led by the city regions that made up One North: Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle, together with Hull and the Humber, working in collaboration with other northern authorities, the Department for Transport, Highways Agency, Network Rail, and HS2 Ltd.
A joint interim report will be produced in March 2015.