THE Prime Minister has come under fire over an alleged funding cut for Transport for the North.
Board papers published by TfN last month said that a letter from the Department for Transport in January had revealed that TfN’s core funding would be reduced by 40 per cent in 2021-22 to £6 million, down from £10 million in the current financial year.
TfN was dismayed by the news, with its finance director Iain Craven saying: ‘Transport for the North has clearly indicated its disappointment and concern that, at a time when the Government’s levelling up agenda is needed most funding is being cut, putting northern investment and jobs at risk.’
But when Boris Johnson was confronted by a Parliamentary question from Labour’s Dame Diana Johnson, who represents Hull North and who asked: ‘Is the 40 per cent cut to Transport for the North’s budget part of the Prime Minister’s plans for levelling up the country?’, he responded that there was ‘no such cut’, continuing: ‘We intend to invest massively in Northern Powerhouse Rail, in railways in the North, and across the entire country.’
Labour’s shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said: ‘Either the Prime Minister thinks he can lie with impunity or he simply wasn’t aware that he has cut the budget of Transport for the North by 40 per cent. It’s hard to know which is more damning.
‘Whatever the explanation, he should return to the House of Commons and put the record straight. The reality is the rhetoric may have changed but the Tory record remains the same – and it’s one of the North losing out under Conservative governments.’
After the exchange in the Commons, Mr Johnson’s spokesman said: ‘You have what the Prime Minister said and I think after he said that he went on to talk about the areas where we are providing substantial investment.’
He continued: ‘Specifically he was pointing to the range of investment that we are making to transport in the North, but as I’ve just said we are making investments in terms of transport infrastructure across the country and the one thing I didn’t mention was HS2 which is obviously a big transport infrastructure project that will go forward.
‘The Prime Minister is always accurate when he is talking about such issues and as I say you’ve got his answers from PMQs earlier today.’