Later today, George Osborne will be making a speech about the Northen Powerhouse in Manchester. These ideas are widely seen as aimed at improving the appeal of the Conservative party in Labour’s northern heartlands.
One major issue for people in the north is the lack of east-west links, from Manchester to Sheffield, from Hull to Liverpool. But all journeys across the Pennines – from Manchester to Sheffield or Manchester to Leeds and Manchester to Nottingham will involve a detour to the outskirts of Birmingham.
Meanwhile a number of different commentators have pointed out that sorting out these east-west links is of much higher priorities than HS2.
For instance, in the Telegraph today Phillip Blond of ResPublica writes
“Proper devolution must involve transport, infrastructure, not least because part of the answer to entrenched unemployment is providing links between such places and areas where there is work. That is why an HS3 link from Liverpool to Hull is in many ways more important than HS2, which by itself just risks draining more jobs and opportunities from the North.”
And just a couple of weeks ago, a poll taken by Insider Media at their Northern Powerhouse conference found that the attendees thought HS3 should be built before HS2 by a ratio of 14-1. They go on to say on their website:
“However, a separate poll of delegates found unanimous support for the concept of the Northern Powerhouse, which Chancellor George Osborne has said is vital in order to rebalance the economy with transport being identified as a number one priority.”