Ordsall Chord

Chancellor flies north to reassure the metro mayors

The Chancellor Philip Hammond is visiting projects in the north of England while meeting the newly elected metro mayors to reafirm government's message of continuing commitment to the Northern Powerhouse agenda. On a whistle-stop tour, Hammond will view progress with construction of the Ordsall Chord of the Northern Hub rail project in Manchester and the Seacroft housing development in Leeds.

The visit comes after business and political leadrers across the north united to call for more priority for improving the north's transport network. A petition drawn up by the IPPR thinktank, signed by 70,000 people, called for a government commitment to the east-west Northern Powerhouse Rail project and billions in 'catch-up cash' for northern road and rail schemes. That came after the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling appeared to pour cold water on northern transport with his announcement of the scaling down of electrification of rail lines including some in the north, in favour of bi-modal trains to save billions in costs.

Grayling also responded to protestations by saying the north should take control of it own destiny, by taking advantage of the greater powers and autonomy created through Transport for the North and the elected city mayors. The Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, was among leaders pointing out that government was backing Crossrail 2 in London, at the expense of its commitments to the north.

Philip Hammond will meet Andy Burnham along with the elected mayor of Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, and the Tees Valley mayor, Ben Houchen. According to a government statement, the aim of the meeting is to discuss boosting growth and productivity across the north of England and to make clear that the Northern Powerhouse will be key to government's Industrial Strategy.

"Boosting productivity in the North is at the very heart of the government’s ambition to build an economy that works for everyone," Hammond said. "As we prepare to leave the European Union it is even more important that we support the Northern Powerhouse to reach its full potential. That’s why we are investing record amounts in infrastructure, and working with metro mayors to encourage growth and create opportunities throughout the North."

The Ordsall Chord will improve rail connections by connecting Manchester's three main line railway stations, allowing direct trains between areas to the south west and north east of Manchester. The Seacroft housing project has received support through the Homes and Communities Agency's Single Land programme. Philip Hammond is expected to reveal government's progress with a new 'housing deal' for Leeds. These deals are intended to increase supply of housebuilding in areas of high demand.

The Communities and Local Government secretary, Sajid Javid, said: I want to strike housing deals across the country to support councils’ ambitious and innovative plans for new homes, and to help boost supply where it’s most needed. We’re committed to considering all tools at our disposal, and by using our money more flexibly we can deliver more homes.

"We’re making good progress with a Leeds housing deal and hope to announce further details at Autumn Budget. As well as increasing housing, this will help grow local economies as part of our commitment to the Northern Powerhouse."