Promise to bring tram or rail service to Stocksbridge is 'not an election gimmick' in Tory target seat says minister

A Conservative minister has said the promise of money to build a tram-train or heavy rail service from Sheffield to Stocksbridge is ‘not an election gimmick’ in a Tory target seat.

Thursday, 5th December 2019, 3:21 pm
Updated Friday, 6th December 2019, 12:56 pm
Money could become available for a tram-train link
Money could become available for a tram-train link

Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris was at Fox Valley Shopping Park in Stocksbridge to announce the £4.2 billion Local Public Transport pot devolved to regional areas for certain projects and said he wanted to get the rail project ‘off the ground’.

But the final decision on where the money will be spent will be down to Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis.

A week out from the election, the Penistone & Stocksbridge constituency is a key target seat for the Conservatives.

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Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris and Penistone & Stocksbridge candidate Miriam Cates (second left). Picture: George Torr/LDRS

Labour, under Angela Smith before she left the party, currently hold a 1,300 majority over the Tories.

The city region is already owed up to £250 million from the Department for Transport in Transforming Cities Fund cash which is earmarked for bus, tram and train improvements.

The minister said the fund was money on top of the TCF bid.

Mr Heaton-Harris said other schemes presented to the DfT would be considered depending on the business case, but added the Stocksbridge rail project is something the Government ‘wants to see’.

Asked if the announcement was an election gimmick so close to the vote, Mr Heaton Harris said: “No, we’ve been talking about this for quite some time and infrastructure and delivering benefits from leaving the European Union and making sure we unleash the potential in this country is part of our manifesto.

“Postal votes have already dropped, this isn’t an election gimmick and this is something we want to do as a government.

“The money would be devolved to Sheffield City Region in this particular case and they would have to bid in with projects.

“We’ve given the strongest possible steer that we want this project to be one of them and this is at a reasonably well developed stage and it’s been on the books for quite some time and Miriam Cates the local candidate here has been campaigning on it for as long as I’ve known her.”

Miriam Cates, the Conservative candidate for Penistone & Stocksbridge, said: “It’s fantastic to hear this announcement that we’ve got a really strong chance of seeing this Stocksbridge to Sheffield train line up and running - it will be transformation for this community.

“Stocksbridge is very cut off and journey times to Sheffield are huge. Not only will this connect us to a wider local economy but it’s also going to get cars off the road.”

Full list of candidates in standing in Penistone & Stocksbridge

John Booker – Brexit Party

Miriam Cates – Conservative Party

Hannah Kitching – Liberal Democrats

Francyne Johnson – Labour Party