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Mayors and leaders question Northern Powerhouse commitment

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The mayors and council leaders of northern cities and city regions have urged the government to clarify its commitment to the Northern Powerhouse following decisions to cut funding for a number of major transport projects.

Last week transport secretary Chris Grayling rowed back on electrifying lines in the North, and the Midlands, and rebuilding Manchester Piccadilly station. Days later Mr Grayling announced announced the government is backing the £31bn Crossrail 2 rail scheme in London.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, Liverpoool City Region mayor Steve Rotheram, Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese, Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake, Sheffield City Council leader Julie Dore, and Newcastle City Council deputy leader Joyce McCarty (all Lab) issued a joint statement.

They said Mr Grayling’s decisions “were unexpected and have caused confusion and concern”, and added they “raised fears over the government’s commitment to Northern Powerhouse rail, the future of the Northern Powerhouse itself, and indeed the government’s stated aim of rebalancing the UK economy”.

They said: “If the government can’t be trusted to stick to promises already given, then it is hard to have confidence that they will deliver longer term agreements made to the North.

“The government urgently needs to clarify its position on both short-term and long-term commitments to the North and confirm if it remains committed to the Northern Powerhouse and Transport for the North.”

A summit for northern political and business leaders has been organised in late August, ahead of the return of parliament.

“We call on the government to return to working constructively with us to correct long-term imbalances in transport funding and to give the people of the North the rail services they deserve and have been promised,” the mayors and leaders said.

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