MP blasts transport spending shortfall

Wigan Wallgate station
Wigan Wallgate station

Wigan’s MP has demanded greater fairness in transport funding after a report exposed the scale of the north-south spending divide.

The town’s parliamentary representative Lisa Nandy demanded Westminster honours its commitments to infrastructure projects in the region and rebalances its priorities outside of London and the south east.

Shocking figures released by think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) shows six times as much money is spent on transport projects in London than in the South East.

The IPPR showed the Department for Transport (DfT) will spend £289 per person in the North West and £1,870 per person in the capital city over the next four years.

The think tank’s research also showed just one major London project, the new Crossrail train route, is having more taxpayers’ cash spent on it than the entire north of England.

Ms Nandy says it is now vital that the HS2 and HS3 high-speed rail networks linking up major cities and eventually running through to Scotland go ahead and the region is given greater priority by ministers in the future.

Ms Nandy said: “These figures are a slap in the face for people in communities like Wigan.

“We now need urgent assurances about HS3 and a firm commitment to end this gross inequality at the heart of the Tories’ transport strategy.”

The think tank’s research was also quoted by Leigh MP Andy Burnham as he became the Labour candidate for the Greater Manchester elected mayor.

Mr Burnham said the figures showed Westminster had turned its back on regions such as the North West and he would fight for a fairer funding deal if elected in Greater Manchester.

Writing to the new secretary of state for transport in the light of its findings, IPPR North urged a “north first” approach to infrastructure investment to be developed.

The organisation said the north of England has world-class cities, ports and national parks as well as a £300bn economy which needed more help to achieve its potential.

IPPR North director Ed Cox said: “To build Theresa May’s better Britain we must focus on a better North.

“Focusing on this is going to be critical in creating the prosperity our country is going to need over the coming years.

“The North must also take control of its own funding decisions.”