Northern transport body is ‘a hollowed-out shell’ after government funding is cut Yorkshire News

Carriage for North West Yorkshire board members Tracy Brabin, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and Mayor of South Yorkshire Dan Jarvis, outside Leeds railway station

Councilman Sean Chaytor made the remarks at a Transport for the North scrutiny committee meeting, during a discussion of drastic funding cuts and impending layoffs.

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It then reduced the amount of funding given to Transport for the North to support work on the project by almost £75m.

The transport body, which now has an advisory “co-sponsorship” role, has requested £104.5m but will receive just £1.5m to provide “analytical support” over the next financial year.

It has also applied for £10m of core funding, the amount it received in 2020/21, but will only receive £6.5m.

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Councilor Chaytor of Hull City Council said the budget “has been massively reduced” and Transport for the North has become “a hollowed-out shell”.

“I really have great sympathy for the staff here. They entered with the intention of delivering first-class transport to the North, that cannot happen due to government decisions, ”said the Labor councilor.

“Right now, we can deliver next to nothing because the budget is next to zero and the ability to deliver is next to nothing, because you have to think about getting rid of key people.”

He added: “Welcome to the RMS Titanic, where we are simply moving the deckchairs before it sinks. There is no money to deliver anything, let’s be totally honest.

“Transport for the North is a joke.”

Councilman Paul Haslam, chairman of the canvassing committee, told the meeting that he had “concerns about how effective Transport for the North can be.”

Financial Controller Paul Kelly said he was disappointed with the “modest” amount of core funding that has been provided.

He also said the organization, which is drawing up a three-month provisional budget, will have to cut costs by nearly 40 percent and make layoffs, but did not say how many.

“The real challenge for us is that we have to take a step back, possibly become a more efficient organization, but then reshape ourselves and start over. That is the general feeling within the company,” she added.

Kelly also told the meeting that Transport for the North used £2.5m of reserves to ease financial pressures, after its core funding was cut by 40 per cent in January 2021, but added: “It can only use reserves once.

When the Government published its Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) in November, it pledged £17.2bn for a 40-mile high-speed line between Warrington, Manchester and Marsden in Yorkshire.

It also opted to upgrade and electrify the existing Transpennine mainline as part of a £5.4 billion project, but refused to build new lines between Leeds and Liverpool, which Transport for the North had been requesting.

The Government, which was scheduled to run in the North after the publication of the IRP, has said that building the Northern Powerhouse Rail line suggested by Transport for the North would cost an extra £18bn, open in 2043 and cut just four minutes off the journey between Manchester and Leeds.

The organization continues to urge the Government to build its preferred option for the high-speed rail line and return to the original plans for HS2.

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This notice was published: 2022-03-10 14:32:48

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