Coun Steven Leigh: Long-term Conservative decisions for a brighter future in Calderdale
Calderdale Council Conservative group leader, Coun Steven Leigh, writes:
Regionally inequality between the North and South is exemplified by the lack of spending on transport in the North, compared with the South over the past few decades – if the North of England had received the same funding as London since 2015, we would have received over £50 billion more.
Transport infrastructure in the North of England is greatly inferior and the scrapping of the HS2 Birmingham to Manchester link is the correct decision. Businesses and residents for many years have been crying out for improved East-West links and regional connectivity.
The cancelled link would have delivered few tangible benefits to the North, and reinvesting the money will improve transport links across the region to the tune of the £36 billion spread across hundreds of transport projects.
In the wider region, this includes £4 billion to improve connectivity in all six Northern City regions, £2.5 billion to improve rural travel, electrification and upgrades to rail lines, the reopening of disused train lines to reconnect communities, £1 billion roads package, £3.3 billion road resurfacing fund, £460m for smaller road schemes, £2 bus fare cap extended until the end of 2024, and £2.5 billion for a West Yorkshire mass transit system. This list goes on…
This deal will provide a tremendous boost to economic growth in Northern England, which is being suppressed by inferior transport links that hamper the North from realising its full potential.
Improved East-West links and regional connectivity will increase productivity – this means more economic growth which will drive up wages, which will mean more money in your pocket.
People in Calderdale do not have a great need to get to London quicker, but need reliable, clean, and efficient services throughout our region.
In Calderdale, the Conservative Group will push the Mayoral Combined Authority to use this government money to ensure improved bus services, better roads and most importantly, full electrification of the Calder Valley Rail Line through to Manchester.
A major factor in rebalancing the North’s economic future will be the government’s empowerment of local democracy with fully rolled-out Mayoral Combined Authorities. One example of these powers being used recently is that Great Manchester Combined Authority has established a public control franchising model for bus services. This is also now being considered by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.
Another example is government funding direct to Calderdale as part of the Levelling-up Agenda of over £50 million in specific grants for revitalisation of our town centres, with Halifax receiving £11.7m, Brighouse £19m, Todmorden £17.5 and Elland £6.3m, together with £20m for a new railway station in Elland.
In sum this massive investment will trigger a new era of economic prosperity in the North.
These are the long-term Conservative Decisions for a Brighter Future in Calderdale.