Responding to the story in The Independent, Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region said,
“’Levelling up’ remains an ill-defined concept more than 18 months since this government was elected on a promise to deliver it. Northern Powerhouse Rail offers the most significant and tangible way to show the Government is serious about redressing the huge imbalance in investment, opportunity and ambition that exists between the North and South.
“For a number of years, Northern leaders have constructively engaged with government in what we believed to be meaningful talks on delivering the high-quality, high-speed intercity rail links that towns and cities right across the North desperately need to reach our full potential.
“If correct, to learn that the government has gone cold on levelling up via a leak to a Sunday newspaper is totally unacceptable. It now looks like they intend to shelve those plans. Not investing in the North now risks exacerbating the North South divide and increasing the burden on the Treasury in the long run. This in no way is building back better.
“Government ‘by leak’ needs to stop. I’ll be pressing for an urgent meeting this week with the Department of Transport and Treasury to press our case. We have told them in no uncertain terms we will not accept a sub-optimal solution to our transport needs. Cheap and nasty proposals neither help nor please anybody and could cause a detrimental economic impact that would be unacceptable to businesses and passengers alike.”