Prime minister Theresa May appears to have quashed rumours about the demise of the Northern Powerhouse and the end of metro mayors, with two columns in regional newspapers that came out in support of both projects.
Ms May put transport front and centre in both columns, as she committed to HS2 and the Northern Powerhouse brand – the brainchild of former chancellor George Osborne.
Prime minister Theresa May
And despite previous fears being raised over mayoral deadlines and reports The Times that plans for combined authority mayors could be sidelined for political reasons, Ms May also recommitted to so-called metro mayors for both Sheffield and West Midlands in 2017.
Further to those reports, a Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman told Transport Network: ‘Devolution deals will continue in the usual way. Elected mayors remain the best way to make them work.’
In the Yorkshire Post, Ms May wrote: ‘Yorkshire is a key part of our vision for a Northern Powerhouse – our plan to help the great cities and towns of the North pool their strengths and take on the world.’
She went on to list investment and devolution plans, with transport at their heart: ‘Firstly, we will make massive improvements to transport, making it easier to get around, and more attractive for business to move here. That means major investments to transform key roads like the M62, the M1 and A1.
'It means developing high speed rail – not just from north to south but also from east to west. But it also means improvements right across Yorkshire, including new trains, and investments such as the new railway stations at Kirkstall Forge and Apperley Bridge.’
There was also a pledge to invest £15m for cycling infrastructure projects, ‘to encourage even greater participation in the sport’ and continue the proud legacy of the Rio Games, and to support a ‘Yorkshire-led bid to bring cycling’s World Road Championships to Britain’.
Ms May also added: ‘We’ve started with a major devolution deal for Sheffield City Region, and their new mayor will be elected next May, giving people there a powerful new voice.’
In the Birmingham Post, the prime minister expressed similar sentiments, stating her plans for a Midlands Engine still include ‘devolving powers to the West Midlands and giving you a powerful new voice by creating an elected mayor next May’.
‘That means you will have more involvement in the decisions that affect your life like transport, housing, investment in skills, and help for people to find work,’ she added.
She also listed plans for major transport improvements, including ‘major projects like HS2, which will put the Midlands at the heart of a modern transport network’, motorway upgrades and smart motorways.
Surveyor Events has confirmed a one-day conference in Manchester on 10 November specifically designed to prepare local government for the transition towards regional transport planning.
Successful Regional Transport 2016 will feature keynote speakers including David Brown, chief executive of Transport for the North and Cathy Miller deputy director for cities, policy and delivery at the Department for Transport.
Click here for the conference programme and to register.