Plans announced by Transport for the North (TfN) to upgrade commuter routes and major roads in the north of England have been called into question by critics.
John Prescott, former secretary of state for the environment, transport and the regions, described the project, in which the government is investing £69 billion over 30 years, as “a fraud”.
Prescott highlighted the fact that TfN can’t control its funding, which will arrive on average in £2.3bn lumps per year, in the same way Transport for London can. He said: “It was promised to have statutory powers. Now we know, and it's been confirmed by government, it will have no powers."
Prescott said TfN "can talk to the treasury along with the strategic bodies" but that "it can't make a decision and it doesn't get any money" without government input. This, critics claimed, could reduce the effectiveness of the project to have the biggest positive impact on the region.
TfN countered the claims by stating that it has enough power to "ensure plans are formally considered by government when taking decisions about transport investment in the north".
It said that the plans, which include creating a new road link from the M61 to M62 and building new carriageways in road sections that split Manchester and Leeds, could help generate 850,000 jobs and boost the economy by £100bn.
In total, TfN has identified seven ‘corridors’ of transport to improve in the north. These have been separated into sections, such as the Southern Pennines corridor, which will improve connections between the Port of Liverpool to the Humber Ports, via Cheshire, Greater Manchester and the Sheffield City Region.