North-south divide in Infrastructure plans
19 December 2011
There is a clear and "shocking" north-south divide in the government's plans for transport infrastructure spending, according to a new report by IPPR North. The report said that while spending in the south equated to around £2,731 a head, it was just £5 a head in the north east.
The think tank said that London and the south east accounted for 84 per cent of planned spending compared with 6 per cent in the north and only 0.04 per cent in the north east.
IPPR North's Ed Cox said: "Of course every country has a capital city and some of London's transport infrastructure wouldn't be happening without the Olympics. But if the government continues to use a system that reinforces the dominance of London and the south east we'll all be worse off."
He added: "Skewed spending benefiting London and the south east is nothing new, but these new figures are truly shocking and will strike most people as deeply unfair."
The Department for Transport said: "We have previously made it clear that the government's long-term vision for infrastructure includes a high-speed rail network connecting north and south. However we cannot ignore the fact London is the biggest city and a global capital supporting a large number of people who commute from outside the region."
James Lewis, chairman of Metro, the local transport authority for West Yorkshire, was quoted in the Yorkshire Post as saying: "Despite the previous Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, saying that investment needs to be 'overlaid with a view about regional equity', this huge discrepancy in transport spending shows that government is deliberately starving our region of much vital funding for schemes that will support economic growth and create permanent new jobs."
And Ian Williams, director of policy at Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: "As the engine of the UK economy, no one can dispute that investment in the south east's infrastructure is essential to the well-being of the national economy. However, the extent of the disparity between the south east and the rest of the English regions is unacceptable."