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Chancellor sets out vision for 'Northern Powerhouse'

A new high-speed rail connection and improved roads between England's northern cities could help create an economic powerhouse to rival London, George Osborne will say today.

He will use a speech to say an upgraded, link between Manchester and Leeds should be considered as part of the review of the second phase of the project. The Chancellor will say he wants travelling through towns and cities in the north to be as easy as moving around a major global metropolis.

Under current plans the £50 billion HS2 high-speed rail project will link London to Birmingham in its first stage, before creating a Y-shaped network with lines to Manchester and Leeds by 2032/33.

We need an ambitious plan to make the cities and towns here in this northern belt radically more connected from east to west - to create the equivalent of travelling around a single global city.

As well as fixing the roads, that means considering a new high speed rail link. Today I want us to start thinking about whether to build a new high-speed rail connection east-west from Manchester to Leeds."

– Chancellor George Osborne

Nobody will believe the Tories can deliver the jobs, growth and investment we need for the north of England. Regional growth divides have widened markedly since 2010. The Tories scrapped Labour's successful regional development agencies, failed to implement Lord Heseltine's growth report and are planning to cut infrastructure investment next year.

On high-speed rail, we said months ago that we need value for money for the taxpayer and to improve the existing plans to maximise the benefits for the whole country and strengthen the links between northern cities. Ministers need finally to start listening."

– Shadow chancellor Ed Balls


Osborne welcomes 'huge boost' from HS2

Chancellor George Osborne said HS2 will be a "huge boost" in the North West and will create thousands of jobs.

The second phase of the HS2 high speed rail network is still subject to a consultation, but the government is proposing building could begin around 2025, with the line opening by 2033.

Osborne spoke to ITV News about the announcement at his visit to Lucchini UK, a Manchester-based manufacturers, which makes train wheels and other specialist items for the railway industry.

George Osborne visits a train wheel maker in Manchester following HS2 announcement

The Chancellor George Osborne at Lucchini UK in Manchester Credit: Ashley Derricott

The Chancellor George Osborne has visited a train wheel maker in Trafford Park following the announcement on HS2 rail link.

He visited Lucchini UK, a Manchester-based manufacturers, which makes train wheels and other specialist items for the railway industry.

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Osborne: Economic case for HS2 'pretty compelling'

Chancellor George Osborne said HS2 will be an "engine for growth" in the North and Midlands, and will create tens of thousands of jobs.

He acknowledged that communities along its route would face a "very difficult" disruption to their lives, but said the economic benefits were "pretty compelling". He told BBC Breakfast:

I think it is the engine for growth in the North and the Midlands of this country. I think it is going to create tens of thousands of jobs in Manchester and across our great cities.

In the end, as a country, you have got to make those long-term choices. If our predecessors hadn't decided to build the railways in the Victorian times or the motorways in the middle part of the 20th century, then we wouldn't have those things today.

– Chancellor George Osborne


Fracking protestors fear Government backing for the drilling

Protestors who oppose drilling for shale gas in the North West say they fear the Government has given a big hint that it supports the controversial process known as fracking.

Fracking involves pumping water into the ground to fracture shale rocks to extract gas, which can be used for power.

The process has been blamed for causing minor earthquakes on the Lancashire Coast.

Today, in his Autumn statement, the Chancellor George Osborne said he was prepared to consider giving tax breaks to companies involved in drilling.

How will the Autumn Statement affect the North West?

The Treasury has produced a map which shows how some of the measures in the Autumn Statement will affect each area of the country, here is the breakdown for the North West:

  • 27,000 people to be lifted out of income tax and 2.6 million to pay less income tax as a result of Personal allowance reforms.
  • Cancelling the planned rise in fuel duty in January wil reduce running costs for the 3.6 million motor vehicles in the North West, saving a typical motorist £40 a year.
  • £181m to build more than 9,400 new homes for affordable rent.
  • £49m to return over 3,000 empty homes to use.
  • £34m investment in partnership between University of Liverpool and Unilever.
  • £38m to develop the Manchester Cancer Research Centre
  • Salford to be in the second wave of super-connected cities.
  • Government will provide a grant for councils that freeze council tax in 2013-14.
  • Business support measures will benefit 431,000 small and medium enterprises in the North West.

See the map in full here.

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