Wry reaction in Sheffield amid uproar at PM's 'no cut' claim at Transport for the North

A Sheffield transport chief has jokingly responded to the Prime Minister’s apparently false statement that Transport for the North had not had a 40 per cent budget cut.

Thursday, 25th February 2021, 5:20 pm

Peter Kennan, chair of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce Transport Forum, said on Twitter: ‘As a chartered accountant I have always thought £10m reduced to £6m is a cut of 40 per cent. After 35 years, I am now befuddled.”

He spoke out after Boris Johnson was asked at Prime Minister’s Questions how the cut fitted with his plan for ‘levelling up’ the North.

He replied: “There has been no such cut. We intend to invest massively in Northern Powerhouse Rail, in railways in the North and across the entire country.”

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Peter Kennan, chair of the transport forum at Sheffield Chamber.

But this was contrary to a funding letter Transport for the North says it received from the Department for Transport on January 4.

Board papers for the body, which aims to boost connectivity in the North, show core funding would drop from £10 million in 2020/21 to £6 million in 2021/22.

The PM was asked to correct his statement by shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon.

He 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.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. Issue date: Wednesday February 24, 2021. Photo credit should read: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA Wire

“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.”

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham was also critical of the Prime Minister, saying the cut was a terribly timed “bolt out of the blue” which raised fears the Government wanted “to turn down the volume on the northern voice”.

“It doesn’t build confidence in the North at this particular moment in time to see a budget cut of that size,” the Labour politician said.

“The record I think will need to be corrected because there has been a cut.”

Downing Street declined to retract the remarks.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The Prime Minister is always accurate when he is talking about such issues.”

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Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.