“Give us the same level of public funding for transport that London has benefited from and we will deliver,” said West Yorkshire elected mayor Tracy Brabin speaking today, reports Andy Walker from Brighton.
Brabin was speaking at Metro Mayors and the future of local transport, an IPPR North fringe event at the Labour Party conference, where she teamed up with Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and IPPR North research fellow Marcus Johns to make a plea for a fairer slice of the nation’s transport cake from government.
Brabin said that such investment was vital if the government was really serious about levelling up the north and that her region and others were prepared to work with the government to deliver change. Such change was necessary she said because the region’s transport failings were holding people back from realising their ambitions, including many workers who were finding it hard to travel to work in an economic and efficient way. “Enough of the warm words from government, give mayors and leaders the power to reform our transport system,” she said.
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham challenged the government to make good on their promises by funding a levelling up deal that he planned to announce during the Conservative’s visit to Manchester next week for their annual conference. “We are happy to make agreements to be bound to a series of measures around carbon reduction, jobs and transport, but the government needs to deliver its side of bargain too. We are about to find out of the government is really serious about levelling up,” Burnham said.
IPPR North’s Marcus Johns said that metro mayors were absolutely crucial as they are proven to spend money and have the vision to shape and change their areas. He said that their powers around procurement, especially in delivering social value, were important in making a difference to local communities. “We are at a pivotal moment as we look to reimagine transport to make that model shift away from the car and towards a greener future. Let’s imagine what a truly integrated transport system looks like and let’s have the funds to make it happen,” he said.
Speaker after speaker from the floor at the packed fringe event highlighted their experiences of a broken transport system across the north which needed better coordination and investing in to make it easier for people to use.
Both Brabin and Burnham said they were determined to set party politics aside in their quest for securing greater resources for their regions and were not worried about the government taking the credit for levelling up. “We both came into politics to do right by the people we represent and to change lives and if we can secure the investment our areas so badly need then that is our main aim,” Burnham said.