Plans to connect areas outside London cannot be “diluted”, the government has been warned after billions of pounds of investment in transport within regions were announced.
The Treasury said £ 7bn for connections outside the capital outside the capital will be confirmed on the budget to be spent on schemes including bus and tram.
But leaders in the north, while welcoming the investment, fear it could mean larger projects like HS2 or Northern Powerhouse Rail could be scaled down.
Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership lobby group, told ITV: “The problem is that without the full delivery of HS2, building from the north, starting from Leeds, down Sheffield, without the Northern Powerhouse Rail and a new station in Bradford, will Northern England be changed briefly.
“What we see is leveling instead of leveling up.”
On Sunday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak dampened expectations that leaders will soon receive answers, despite long-standing speculation that the eastern part of HS2, which was to be built for Leeds, will be scrapped.
He told Trevor Phillips on Sunday on Sky News that metro mayors Andy Street and Andy Burnham have welcomed the announcements he has made.
But he said: “I think your specific question actually concerns something else. So what the money announced yesterday was about is what we call ‘intracity transport’, it’s about how we get people living in and around a city to easily get in the middle of it and out again.
“In fact, we are not doing as well as we should if you look at cities such as Marseille or Lyon in France – it takes almost no time at all, or within half an hour, for people to get from outside to it. The travel time in some of our cities outside London can take twice as long. ”
He added: “This is what we are trying to rectify with the settlements we have announced.
“What you’re talking about is something different, and it’s about how we connect our cities with each other. It’s going to be part of something called the integrated railway plan, and plans for it will be announced soon. ”
But West Yorkshire Metro Mayor Tracy Brabin told Trevor Phillips on Sunday: “What matters to us is the stop in Bradford. We can not have a diluted version of our transport network.
“Here in West Yorkshire we have spent £ 174 per tonne. Inhabitant on transport. In London it is over £ 500.
“We have less per capita than any other community in the whole country. We have been underfunded for decades.
“Now the government has the opportunity to be brave, ambitious and follow us in our vision that West Yorkshire should have the London-style transport system that will truly make us the powerhouse we can be.”
Meanwhile, Jake Berry, chair of the Northern Research Group for Conservative MPs, called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to fulfill his promise of devolution.
The Conservative MP for Rossendale and Darwen and former Northern Powerhouse minister spoke about foreign direct investment on BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend.
He said: “Honestly, after the Covid pandemic, the government itself does not have enough money to commit to leveling these communities and we will see new companies with good, high-paying jobs located in the regions of England.”
He added: “It is really important that the Prime Minister delivers his promise of devolution so that you have mayors who can go out and talk to the world …
“I think Andy Burnham has done a good job at Greater Manchester in terms of attracting foreign direct investment.”