NORTHERN POWERHOUSE must press ahead – my column for the Stockport Express

piccadillyMy final act on the last day of the Commons before the summer was a speech in a debate called by my Commons neighbour, Jonathan Reynolds.

The debate was called in response to the Government’s announcement that the rail electrification programme – a crucial aspect of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ – would be subjected to an indefinite pause.

I am sick of public transport in our area being neglected. We now have a station, Reddish South, that is served by one train a week in one direction only.

I know that Ministers are in the process of devolving powers to the mayor and the combined authority, which is right.

We believe in devolution, and we know that our elected representatives in Greater Manchester have the capacity to take on those new powers, and to plan and prepare for a better transport system.

To get our rail network to where we want it to be will require not only local leadership, direction and commitment, but also that same level of commitment and resources to flow from central Government.

What we absolutely do not need is for the problem to be swept under the carpet, and for Ministers to ignore our calls for the electrification of the Manchester to Leeds route to be restarted.

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