North East MPs have hit out at the Government with a claim it has lumped together our region with the North West to mask its lack of investment in our transport systems.
Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, has joined Kevan Jones, MP for North Durham, in criticising the lack of a plan to invest in the region’s infrastructure.
They say that in a letter sent to all MPs this week, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling suggests that the “Northern regions” of England would receive £1,039 per head in planned transport infrastructure spending to the year 2021, which is £13 more than London’s £1,026,
The North East MPs say, on closer inspection, it appears he has “deliberately grouped the North East together with the North West to make the Government’s transport spend look higher.”
They add an analysis of the Government’s transport spending plans, which informed the letter, reveals planned transport spending in the North East is currently only £822, compared to £1,353 for the North West.
They believe that instead of providing a real figure for each of the north’s separated regions, Mr Grayling’s letter provides an average, “giving the impression that transport funding is equally spread throughout England.”
It is shocking that the Transport Secretary has fudged his figures to put a positive spin on the transport infrastructure spend for the North East.Sharon Hodgson
The figures come in the wake of a report by the Government’s library, which shows the North East receives the second lowest level of investment, with £3.15million spent in the five-year period up to the end of the 2016 financial year, compared to £30.64million in London.
A further breakdown shows £985,808 of the North East’s cash was spent on local roads, with a further £635,864 spent on “national roads” which include highways and trunk routes.
The amount spent per head stood at £299 per person on transport during the 2015/16 period, compared to £973 in London.
Easington MP Grahame Morris said the statistics show “an immense disparity” between the regions and has called for the region to be given its fair share, especially in terms of the A19.
He is seeking a safety review of the road, which is backed by our Safe A19 campaign.
Mrs Hodgson, said: “It is shocking that the Transport Secretary has fudged his figures to put a positive spin on the transport infrastructure spend for the North East.
“Clearly, he believed he could pull the wool over the eyes of the regions MPs and the people of the North East; however, he has failed in doing so.
“The North East deserves the right levels of transport funding to unlock much-needed economic growth and ensure that there is a level playing field when it comes to how infrastructure spending is allocated across the country, and not have a Government who mask the damning reality of their failed approach to regional growth.”
Mr Grayling states in the letter there have been “misleading unofficial analyses” which show discrepancies in spending per head.
He adds: “There will always be some variation between regions in the Government’s spending per head on transport infrastructure, particularly over a relatively short period in question, given the regions’ differing geographies and requirements.”
Our petition to the Department for Transport in support of the A19 review can be found via https://goo.gl/8WbEhe.