February 3, 2022 4.32 pm This story is over 28 months old

Lincoln MP accuses Manchester Mayor of having “schizophrenic” strategy in Integrated Rail Plan row

“Do not bite the hand that feeds you”

By Local Democracy Reporter

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney has warned Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester to not “bite the hand that feeds you” after complaints the government’s financial pledge to improve transport links in the North is lower than promised.

The Integrated Rail Plan, which outlines the government’s proposals to transform transport networks in the Midlands and North of England, was examined by a Transport Select Committee inquiry on Wednesday, featuring Lincoln’s Conservative MP Karl McCartney.

Doubts have been cast over the levels of funding that can be expected in these plans, with opposition figures suggesting it will be significantly lower than was initially promised by the government.

It is reported the initial promise was for £3 billion to be spent on improvements to bus services and fares, something which is repeated in the White Paper, but Labour are now asking whether or not this figure has been halved.

The White Paper also highlights pledges of faster, more frequent and more reliable train journeys in the Midlands and the North, as set out by the £96 billion Integrated Rail Plan.

However, this figure is believed to be a downgrade on proposals initially backed by the Prime Minister, and opposition figureheads want answers.

The IRP plan was first published in November, including the HS2 Eastern leg to Leeds, which was curtailed so it will not reach Yorkshire, and any hopes of a high-speed line between Leeds and Manchester were dashed as a cheaper option between Warrington and Marsden was opted for.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham was among the most vocal opposing the IRP proposals, suggesting that if the North of England is given “second-best” then it will have “second-best for 200 years or more”.

Mr McCartney had asked Mr Burnham: “Do you understand the meaning of the phrase ‘do not bite the hand that feeds you’?” before asking if he thinks his strategy might be “slightly schizophrenic”.

The Lincoln MP continues: “In private saying ‘please sir can I have some more’ like Oliver, then coming out in public and trying to beat the government up like the Incredible Hulk, do you think that’s delivering for you and the people of Manchester?”

In response, Mr Burnham said: “You are kind of saying we should just get what we’re given, how about get what we were promised? Because it’s actually your government that promised all of this.”

Also on the agenda during the meeting were the proposed plans for a Clean Air Zone in Greater Manchester, which would see commercial and passenger vehicles deemed as the highest polluters pay a daily charge to travel in the 10 boroughs of the city.

It has come under major scrutiny, with business owners saying the additional charges could kill their business, and Karl McCartney described the plans as “disastrous”.

The Lincolnite has contacted both Karl McCartney and Andy Burnham about this matter, with the former declining to provide an on the record comment, while Mr Burnham did not respond at the time of publication.