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Northern mayors and union leaders urge Transport Secretary to rethink TfN cuts

Mayors and union leaders for the North of England have written to Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, urging him to reconsider cuts to Transport for the North (TfN).

The letter was sent yesterday (Wednesday) ahead of today’s meeting today (Thursday) of the transport body, which is facing a 40% cut to its budget following proposals made by the Department for Transport in January.

The letter is signed by Andy Burnham, (Metro Mayor, Greater Manchester), Jamie Driscoll (Metro Mayor, North Tyneside), Dan Jarvis, MP (Mayor, Sheffield City Region), Steve Rotherham (Metro Mayor, Liverpool City Region) and TUC regional secretaries Bill Adams (Yorkshire and the Humber), Lynn Collins (North West) and Beth Farhat (Northern).

The letter warns of the impact the cut will have on the development of the Northern economy and the government’s levelling up agenda, saying:

“This cut threatens the much-needed investment in transport infrastructure and initiatives in the North.

“Important schemes such as Northern Powerhouse Rail, Trans Pennine Route Upgrade and HS2 are only the start of what the North needs to grow and prosper. Instead, the proposed cuts will hold back the modernisation of our network and the improved connections we so urgently need in the North.

“If the government persists it will expose its claims of "levelling up" as empty rhetoric.”

(See notes to editors for full text)

TUC North West Secretary, Lynn Collins said:

“We all want a fast and strong recovery after the pandemic. And we can make it happen if we invest in the upgrade that our Northern economy needs.

“But while the Prime Minister talks about ‘building back’, his Transport Secretary is cutting back. And he’s targeting those cuts on the North.

“The years ahead are a national success story waiting to happen, with the North playing a big part. We don’t lack ideas. We don’t lack talent. We just need the investment to unleash our potential.”

Editors Note

Full text of letter to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps:

17 February 2021

Dear Grant,

Cuts to Transport for the North

We are writing to express our dismay at the cuts to Transport for the North (TfN) which were announced on 13 January.

We represent millions of workers, voters and residents across the region who are all relying on investment that will create the functioning, modern transport networks the North so desperately needs, supporting jobs, families and our economy. The cuts you have announced put this crucial agenda at risk.

The planned 40% cut to TfN's budget would also mean job losses at the organisation - yet another reduction in good quality jobs in the North.

This cut threatens the much-needed investment in transport infrastructure and initiatives in the North, and the ability of the North to have a seat at the table. Please keep your promises to the North and let it have a say.

Important schemes such as Northern Powerhouse Rail, Trans Pennine Route Upgrade and HS2 are only the start of what the North needs to grow and prosper. Instead, the proposed cuts will hold back the modernisation of our network and the improved connections we so urgently need in the North.

We note that recently the government announced a package of nearly £800m of transport infrastructure investment, but there was almost nothing for the North in this.  People in the North will see this as the same old story.

If the government persists it will expose its claims of "levelling up" as empty rhetoric.

We urge you to reverse these cuts, and to let the North have a voice. Please commit to meeting with regional leaders and unions to discuss the role that transport can play in unlocking the enormous potential of the North.

Signed:

Andy Burnham, Metro Mayor, Greater Manchester

Jamie Driscoll, Metro Mayor, North Tyneside

Dan Jarvis, MP Barnsley Central, Mayor, Sheffield City Region

Steve Rotherham, Metro Mayor, Liverpool City Region

Bill Adams, Regional Secretary, Yorkshire and Humber TUC

Lynn Collins, Regional Secretary, North West TUC

Beth Farhat, Regional Secretary, Northern TUC

Paul Nowak, Deputy General Secretary TUC

Cuts to TfN funding: TfN is set to have its core operating funding cut by 40% from £10m in 2020/21 to £6m in 2021/22. Funding for TfN’s smart travel programme will cease – a loss of £33m in 2021/22 that would have been used to rollout contactless technology on buses, trains and light rail. And the £75m awarded for Norther Rail Powerhouse investment is well below the £111m TfN requested. Overall TfN will only receive around half the £158m they requested in the government’s spending review process. More details can be found in this report on funding in 2021/22 prepared for the TfN board: https://democracy.transportforthenorth.com/documents/s2053/Item%206a%20-%202021-22%20Funding%20and%20Business%20Planning.pdf

About the TUC: The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.

Contacts:

Lynn Collins

lcollins@tuc.org.uk

0778 619 0541

TUC North West Office

cpullinger@tuc.org.uk

0151 482 2710

 

Original article link: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/northern-mayors-and-union-leaders-urge-transport-secretary-rethink-tfn-cuts

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