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  1. ITV Report

Fresh calls for 'fair transport deal' for the north

Council leaders in the north of England want a fairer deal for transport investment in the region Credit: ITV News

Demands for the Government to deliver a fair deal on transport for the north of England are set to be made by political and business leaders later today.

Calls for more investment in the regions transport links is expected to come as leaders of councils including Sheffield, Newcastle and Manchester meet for a summit in Leeds that has been described as an "unprecedented gathering".

Liverpool city region metro mayor Steve Rotheram and representatives from various business groups will be also be among the other conference delegates arguing for more financial backing to transform rail connections across the north.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, who will speak at the summit, said: "We are getting organised and demanding the Government keeps all of its promises to people here and delivers a fair funding deal for the north of England.

"We are not against our capital city developing world-class infrastructure but it cannot be at the expense of the north. People here have put up with clapped-out trains and congested roads for long enough."

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling however, said the region's leaders should take control themselves rather than blaming the Government.

He said: "The success of northern transport depends on the North itself."

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The fresh calls for more investment in the north of England come in the wake of former chancellor George Osborne's calls to the Prime Minister to commit to building a high-speed rail link from Liverpool to Hull to unlock the area's economic potential.

It also follows public anger at decision by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling last month to support a new £30 billion Crossrail 2 scheme in London and the South East, days after a series of rail projects in Wales, the Midlands and the north were axed or downgraded.

While there is also increased pressure on the government after 70,000 people signed a petition set up by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) North think tank calling for them to fund Crossrail for the North.

Arguments that are expected to be heard at today's transport summit are thought to be focused on the economic impact on the north improvements to rail links could have.

But Transport Minister Paul Maynard has already said funding has been provided for the development of detailed proposals for the transport upgrades which the government could invest in.

Trains leaving Leeds, one of the cities calling for more transport investment Credit: Lynne Cameron/PA

Leader of Leeds City Council Judith Blake, who will attend the summit, said: "Transforming rail connections across the north was part of the original plan to create a Northern Powerhouse and was estimated to bring £100 billion in economic growth as well as 850,000 new jobs.

"The people of the north are demanding a direct commitment from Government to increase investment in transport and to settle for any less would hold back the potential of the north for decades to come."

Mr Maynard said: "I keep hearing demands for investment in the north but I should point out they come from some of the very same people who we have asked to help develop plans.

"We all want to improve rail in the north and we are all getting on with the work that needs to be done."