Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, has voiced his surprise and disappointment over the lack of consultation with Northern leaders during the Conservative Party Conference held in Manchester. Burnham described the party’s behavior as disrespectful towards the city and the North as a whole.
Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, confirmed during the conference that the HS2 link to Manchester would be cancelled, with the £36 billion in savings being redirected towards a series of transport projects called ‘Network North’. However, Burnham highlighted that no Northern leaders were consulted about this decision.
In response to the announcement, Burnham stated that the Tories had shown a lack of respect towards Manchester by not engaging with anyone from the city during their stay. He expressed his dismay, emphasizing that the conference attendees did not acknowledge the efforts of the Greater Manchester Police or thank the city for hosting the event.
While acknowledging some positive aspects of the ‘Network North’ plan, including funding for the electrification of the Liverpool to Manchester line and upgrades to the M6, Burnham criticized the lack of coherence in the overall transport strategy. He described the scattering of finances across different regions, such as Plymouth and London Euston, as politically motivated rather than part of a comprehensive transport plan.
Burnham stressed the urgent need to address the bottlenecks in Manchester and Leeds, as well as the lack of capacity across the Pennines, which he sees as the primary transportation challenges in the North of England. Despite his disappointment, he expressed his determination to salvage some of the positive elements of the plan and work towards a more coherent solution for the North.
1. What was the announcement made during the Conservative Party Conference?
Rishi Sunak confirmed that the HS2 link to Manchester would be cancelled and that the savings of £36 billion would be used for a series of transport projects called ‘Network North’.
2. Why was Andy Burnham disappointed?
Andy Burnham was disappointed because there was no consultation with Northern leaders about the ‘Network North’ plan during the conference, which he deemed disrespectful towards Manchester and the North.
3. What criticisms did Burnham have regarding the ‘Network North’ plan?
Burnham criticized the lack of coherence in the plan, stating that it appeared more politically motivated rather than a comprehensive transport strategy. He also highlighted that the allocated funds were being scattered across various regions instead of focusing on addressing the major transportation challenges in the North.