Sheffield MP calls for northern transport clarity from Government in 'disarray'

Transport secretary Chris Grayling in Yorkshire.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling in Yorkshire.
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A Sheffield MP has demanded clarity from the Government over transport plans for the north she says are in 'complete disarray'.

Labour's Angela Smith criticised ministers for putting out 'contradictory' messages over improvements to rail and road links that are 'desperately needed'.

The Penistone and Stocksbridge MP said she had been told first that the HS3 line that would bring faster services between Sheffield to Manchester was not confirmed - but then by another Government minister that it would definitely go ahead.

That was followed this week by transport secretary Chris Grayling saying it was the responsibility of the north rather than the Government to design and manage an improved rail link over the Pennines.

Mrs Smith has written to Mr Grayling and Paul Maynard, a minister in the Department for Transport, to demand clarity on plans for the north.

She said ministers were in 'complete disarray', adding: "We need to know just what is happening here and we need to establish exactly what the Government’s position is.

Angela Smith.

Angela Smith.

"How can my constituents have confidence in the Government’s ability to deliver desperately needed transport infrastructure over many years when the very people in charge of that delivery seem to change their minds on daily basis?

"We in the north need these improvements if we are to have a prosperous future and to see ministers confused and contradictory is quite worrying.

"They need to get their act together quickly and they need to stop playing politics that has more to do with the Tory party than the future of the country.”

Business and council leaders held a summit in Leeds this week after Mr Grayling scrapped plans to electrify the Midland Mainline between Nottingham and Sheffield and suggested a commitment to electrify the trans-Pennine route between Leeds and Manchester could be downgraded.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham speaks at the transport summit for the north.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham speaks at the transport summit for the north.

They called on the Government to honour its promises to the region and set out a clear timetable for the delivery of a trans-Pennine high-speed rail network.

Ministers faced demands to deliver on longstanding promises to electrify key rail lines and to ensure the north receives a fairer share of transport funding.

The summit also heard calls for the creation of a 'Council of the North’ bringing together business, councils and other groups together to speak with a single voice to the Government.