Call for cash boost for Lancashire transport links

County Coun. Azhar Ali (s)
County Coun. Azhar Ali (s)

The Government is being urged to boost Lancashire’s transport infrastructure with a £1.6bn cash injection.

County Coun Azhar Ali has drawn up a wish list of projects, including work at Preston station and improved routes into Yorkshire, which he says are urgently needed.

He is now calling for a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and Northern Powerhouse Minister Lancashire MP Jake Berry, plus other local political group leaders, to hammer our a better deal.

Coun Ali, leader of the Labour opposition group at county hall, has put a motion for debate at Thursday’s county council meeting calling for the cash and meeting.

He says Lancashire should get equal treatment with Northern Ireland and, referring to the plans for the HS2 high speed rail network for the London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds routes, said Preston is “HS2 ready”.

Other projects he wants to see advanced include re-opening the Colne to Skipton railway line, linking the M65 to Yorkshire, re-instating the Fleetwood train link to Poulton and work at Carnforth train station.

He said: “After the general election Theresa May entered into an agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party who have 10 MPs and have received £1 billion in exchange for their votes in the House Of Commons. Lancashire has 16 MPs and therefore should receive £1.6 Billion for desperately needed infrastructure projects.”

A Government spokesperson said: “Investing in Lancashire is a key part of our plans to build the Northern Powerhouse. We have already provided £320 million to boost Lancashire’s local economy, which includes funding for 17 transport schemes across the county and infrastructure to support housing growth in Preston. This is on top of £111 million of government funding towards the cost of Bay Gateway ... If the Chief Executive of Lancashire County Council requests a meeting with the Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, we will respond to that request in due course.”

The Government says Lancashire County Council will have £2.9 billion core spending power between now and 2020.

County Coun Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council, was not available for comment.