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Northern Powerhouse ‘will not take off’ without infrastructure spending

The government’s northern powerhouse plan will fail unless it puts more money into the region’s transport infrastructure, a leading analyst has warned.

Chris Hearld, chairman for the North at professional services firm KPMG, said a lack of detail about transport projects for the North in this week’s Budget was “incredibly disappointing”.

Chancellor George Osborne did pledge to be “bold” in building the northern powerhouse, and said that devolution deals were being worked on in cities including Liverpool and Sheffield.

But Hearld said: “While the introduction of an Oyster card system across the North is a nice gesture in principle, it will do absolutely nothing to alleviate the lack of capacity and very little to improve the connectivity on our region’s ever-crumbling rail network.

“Businesses across the North are becoming increasingly impatient, and are chomping at the bit to play their part. But their role must be underpinned by dramatic improvements to the transport infrastructure across the region to ensure our businesses, people and resources are better connected. Without this, the northern powerhouse will not take off.”

Transport campaigners also expressed concern about the lack of announcements about rail investment.

Campaign for Better Transport public transport campaigner Martin Abrams said: “The Northern Powerhouse is at risk of completely unravelling. Key rail projects have been shelved and other much need investments are under pressure. The Budget has not gone anywhere near far enough in rebalancing the economy and supporting northern cities.”

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