To connect the north improve its roads

I don’t want to see all our brightest young talent automatically heading south
January 24, 2020

Boosting exports is a top priority for the Northern Powerhouse but one export I don’t want to see is the north’s brightest young talent heading south. If it is quicker to go to London than between our northern towns and cities then people are going to want to move there.

No matter where people live—city, town or rural village—connectivity should be no barrier to reaching their full potential. Above all, our approach has to be about people, so great transport networks are a means to an end.

Improving our railways is one vital component of this. People are rightly fed up of delayed journeys on old Pacer trains and this government, led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is determined to fix the north’s rail infrastructure. As part of our £13bn investment in northern transport we have put well over £1bn into the Great North Rail Project to improve infrastructure from east to west, with a further £2.9bn planned to upgrade the railway between Manchester, Leeds and York. We have given a strong commitment to Northern Powerhouse Rail with a pledge to fund the Leeds to Manchester route. 

However, the vast majority of journeys across the north are still by road. Roads are the arteries that drive the north’s prosperity and the beating heart of its communities. That is why we are spending £3bn to make journeys on the north’s roads and motorways faster and more reliable to connect jobs and people.

Already a massive amount of work is well underway. We’ve announced a new £142m Western Link in Warrington and £40m for the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor. We’ve started building the £125m A19 Testos roundabout near the Port of Sunderland and launched a consultation to transform the 50-mile stretch of the A66 between Penrith and Scotch Corner into a dual carriageway. And there is the once-in-a-generation investment of over £100m for Carlisle, which will mean that within five years the city will have a vital transport link road with the potential to unlock 10,000 new homes. It will also improve access to the region from England and Scotland and give businesses the confidence to invest in the area.

That’s not all. I’m proud of the progress made on significant road infrastructure projects prioritised by local leaders and funded by the government’s multi-billion-pound Local Growth Fund. The recent completion of a £6.9m highway carriageway in Warrington is a prime example. It will make a huge difference to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians—and play a key role in supporting the local economy. The new Manchester Airport Relief Road will deliver faster journeys and open up access to the airport and the nearby Airport City business park, creating jobs and boosting prosperity. 

Thanks to this government’s commitment to devolution we have mayors in Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, the Tees Valley and in North of Tyne. These mayors are already changing the balance of power from south to north because of the money and powers given by the government. The £2.5bn Transforming Cities Fund is improving local transport links by cutting delays for commuters and improving job prospects by making it easier to get around. More than £500m of this has already been guaranteed to northern Mayoral Combined Authorities to drive growth in their cities, and we have given them a powerful voice to articulate the case for new transport projects.

This government is working with local leaders, businesses and communities to level up by putting transport right at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse, so people don’t need to move away to flourish.