BLOGS

“To change the conversation, we have to change who is part of it”

Getting the Powerhouse on the rails

The Northern Powerhouse was created by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne who was the Conservative MP for Tatton.

Osborne created the Northern Powerhouse because Northern MP’s were complaining that most of the money that was made in the UK was going into projects in the South East such as Crossrail.

The Northern Powerhouse will hopefully see a devolved Northern Parliament a bit like devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland where central government gives the devolved government money and they can use it as they see fit.

We already have two Metro Mayors, Andy Burnham for Manchester and Steve Rotherham for Liverpool, both are crying out for a devolved government, so they can control things such as public transport, healthcare, housing and other local issues.

Public transport

Public transport is a big thing in the North. My local train service is served by the much-hated Northern Rail in which we have the good old Pacer trains which are 33 years old. We’ve been promised new trains but we all know that they will be refurbs from another rail operator where the trains will be given a lick of paint maybe even re-engined and sent to the North to do another 20 years’ service. 

The North’s railways have suffered chronic under-investment, but we did get the Preston to Blackpool line electrified, and the Preston to Manchester line via Chorley and Bolton is due to be finished about a year late in December. In a devolved government the Metro Mayors can decide whether or not to relieve Northern Rail of its franchise, where at the moment it’s up to Central government, Chris Grayling doesn’t seem too bothered despite the Northern MP’s of all colours calling for the franchise to be revoked.

In my honest opinion I’d like to see a renationalised railway system where we wouldn’t have any buck passing when things go wrong.

It is hoped that with the completion of HS2 it will link up all the major towns and cities from London to Birmingham up to Manchester, and Yorkshire.

Budget cuts

I live in a little village called Rishton which is in East Lancashire, sandwiched between Blackburn and Accrington, the area used to be heavily industrialised during the 19th and 20th century. Where I live comes under the Lancashire County Council and the Borough of Hyndburn, Lancashire County Council has seen plenty cuts thanks to George Osborne’s Conservative party austerity drive. 

This means county council budget cuts, which will see less police on the streets, social care cuts, bus transport subsidies cut.  Hyndburn is the smallest Borough in the country and also has one of highest rates of poverty and unemployment

I would like to see a Northern Government where Northern matters comes first.  We seem to have a London-centric government where they think the South ends at Watford. There are many things to like about the North such as our successful football teams, the North is a hotbed for football and has more Premier League clubs than anywhere in England outside of London.

A Northern Government would have a decent public transport system; one that’s more co-ordinated where buses, trains & trams all link together unlike the mishmash we have now.

We already have a few cities in the North that have a tram system such as Manchester, Sheffield & Newcastle. Preston are going to build a test track with a tram running up and down with a view to have a tram network in Preston City Centre.

It’s not all bad news from Central government as they re-opened the Todmorden Curve (a bit of missing track of about 200 yards) which now sees trains connect Blackburn, Accrington, Burnley to Manchester Victoria without having to travel to Preston then onto Manchester. Chris Grayling also said he is looking at a business case to reopen a 12 mile stretch from Colne to Skipton again very good news indeed the Skipton East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership, (SELRAP) have campaigning for this line to open since 2001 there is cross party support parties of all colours and is backed by big business.  Also, they are looking at extending the M65 from Preston to Colne into Yorkshire.

In closing I would like to see Northern Parliament with our own budgets set by our Northern Prime Minister.

 

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Read our latest guest blogs here or search for them by subject on the menu below. We are always looking for guest contributors for our blogs so if you’ve got something to say please email blogs@peoplespowerhouse.org.uk with a brief synopsis of what you’d like to write about and how it relates to our our five pillars of change.

* These blogs are a collection of thoughts and opinions from people living or working in the North. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the People's Powerhouse.

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