Andy Burnham: North 'needs transport investment now'

Men and women in suits sitting in a conference facing screens Image caption Political and business leaders have gathered at a transport summit in Leeds' Cloth Hall Court

The north of England "needs transport investment now", the Mayor of Greater Manchester said as northern leaders gather at a transport summit in Leeds.

In a tweet, Andy Burnham[1] said:"We are here with one loud, clear and strong voice - the North."

The meeting of political and business officials at Cloth Hall Court was a "packed house", he said.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling had called for leaders to "take control" of their own transport networks[2].

Mr Burnham said:"This isn't about point scoring, it's about making the argument for the north".

Mr Grayling made the comments in an article in the Yorkshire Post[3] ahead of the conference on Wednesday.

"The success of northern transport depends on the north itself," the transport secretary had said.

'Not a big challenge'

On Tuesday, former Chancellor George Osborne called for high-speed rail lines[4] between Liverpool and Hull.Following his comments, Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry said during a visit to Hull[5] that HS3 "will happen" .

Among the delegates attending the event are leaders of Leeds, Newcastle and Manchester councils, Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and business representatives.

Speaking at the conference, former economist Lord Jim O'Neill said:"It shouldn't be that big a challenge to put in infrastructure to make urban-based areas [in the north] as big as London."

He said transport was one of six key areas for the north - the others being education, skills, devolution, business and ambition - to focus on and called for the government to commit to funding in local infrastructure.

"You can put in a state-of-the-art train system but it won't deliver alone," he said.

Image copyright Transport for Greater Manchester Image caption Transport is one of six key areas for the North to focus on, Lord Jim O'Neill says

Organisers have described the summit as an "unprecedented gathering" of leaders from councils and businesses who want more investment in local infrastructure.

It follows an announcement from the government last month that it was scrapping the planned electrification of railway lines[6] in Wales, the Midlands and the north of England, which angered authorities and businesses.

Days later, Mr Grayling then backed proposals for Crossrail 2[7] - a new line linking north-east and south-west London - sparking further fury....

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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn begins tour of Scottish seats

Corbynplane Image caption Mr Corbyn has arrived in Stornoway for the start of his Scottish tour

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has begun a tour of Scottish constituencies with a visit to the Western Isles.

Mr Corbyn will meet staff at Harris Tweed Hebrides before addressing a town hall rally in Stornoway, highlighting his party's policies for rural areas.

He will then tour a series of marginal seats in Scotland over the next five days, attending speeches and rallies.

The Tories say his policies lack credibility, while the SNP were critical of his position on Brexit.

Labour gained six seats north of the border in June's snap election[1], having lost 40 in the previous poll in 2015.

However, they were less than 100 votes behind the SNP in two Glasgow seats, and less than 1,000 votes behind in six Scottish seats in total.

With the election result stripping Theresa May's Conservatives of their majority in government, Mr Corbyn has pledged to remain on an election footing.His party has identified up to 18 Scottish seats[2] as potential targets.

The Labour leader is using his visit to the Western Isles to highlight Labour plans to "rural-proof" policies in government, so that all laws are assessed on their impact on rural communities.

Image caption The Labour leader is using the trip to the Western Isles to highlight his party's rural policies

Mr Corbyn said:"Rural communities have been taken for granted for too long.There has been chronic underinvestment in transport, broadband and public services, with rural infrastructure and industry neglected.

"Labour will invest in transport, broadband, public services, housing and environmental and coastal protections - vital for the economy and the rural way of life."

The SNP has a lead of just over 1,000 votes in the local constituency of Na'h-Eileanan an Iar, where Angus MacNeil held his seat[3] in June's election by a majority of 6.8%, over a Labour challenger.

A spokesman for the party said Mr Corbyn's "backing for the Tories' extreme Brexit, outside the single market and customs union, is set to hit our rural communities hardest".

He added:"Rural areas benefit massively from our membership of the EU, having access to funding, tariff-free trade and a highly-skilled labour market.

"Sadly, rather than wanting to protect these benefits for rural communities, Labour are pledging to deliver an extreme Brexit.Jeremy Corbyn and Labour simply cannot be trusted to deliver for rural Scotland."

The Scottish Conservatives, meanwhile, said it wasn't long ago that Scottish Labour "dreaded the thought of Jeremy Corbyn coming north".

MSP Miles Briggs added:"Had he won the general election, Corbyn would have sold Scotland out in a heartbeat, and that ambivalence to Scotland's place in the UK hasn't changed."...

References

  1. ^ June's snap election (www.bbc.co.uk)
  2. ^ identified up to 18 Scottish seats (www.bbc.co.uk)
  3. ^ held his seat (www.bbc.co.uk)

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Sarah Smith to present BBC's Sunday Politics

Sarah Smith

BBC Scotland's Sarah Smith is to take over as the presenter of the Sunday Politics from Andrew Neil.

Smith will host the programme when it returns from its summer break on September 17 at 1100 BST.

The former Channel 4 News correspondent will combine her new role with her job as BBC Scotland editor.

Andrew Neil will continue to present BBC Two's Daily Politics and the late-night discussion programme This Week on BBC One.

He said:"I loved presenting Sunday Politics - it was a privilege and honour to hold the political discourse up to the light for all those years and while I will miss it greatly I am delighted to continue to work for the BBC on This Week, Daily Politics and other projects.

"I wish Sarah the best of luck with this challenging and wonderful production."

Smith joined the BBC in 2014 and took on the newly created role of Scotland editor the following year.

She said:"Andrew is one of the great political interviewers who leaves big shoes to fill.I am thrilled to take on this role at such an exciting time in British politics.

"I am very much looking forward to working with the Sunday Politics team.For me now, if it is a Sunday it's the Sunday Politics."...

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