Khan wades in on north-south investment

Sadiq Khan has used a meeting with NIC chair Lord Adonis to call for increased investment in infrastructure throughout Britain, in response to an apparent polarisation of government priorities for London and the North of England.

Authorities and businesses in the North appealed for government to show greater commitment to transport investment north of London earlier in the summer, after the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling appeared to favour London by downscaling rail electrification, including projects in the north of England, while backing Crossrail 2. The government's support for another Crossrail in London is now conditional on the mayor and Transport for London (TfL) finding half of the construction cost up front – not just after it's finished through fares and business rates – but the apparent bias of Grayling's announcements still prompted an angry reaction.

Khan has responded by saying that infrastructure investment should not be seen as a 'zero-sum game', where one region loses out to another. The message is that all parts of the UK will need to see an increase in transport investment from the government to support future growth and job creation as Britain exits the European Union.

Earlier this Summer, the National Infrastructure Commission published a list of the 12 key infrastructure decisions that need to be taken for projects to go ahead across the country, including a Crossrasil for the north, or a High Speed 3 linking the major northern cities, plus Crossrail 2 and increased investment in broadband and 5G.

“I will continue to put the case to Government that good quality, modern infrastructure, including new roads, railways and state-of-the-art broadband and mobile connectivity is crucial if this country is to remain a global economic powerhouse," Khan said, ahead of his meeting with Lord Adonis.

A Mayor's Office statement also points out that Khan is supporting infrastructure provision in other regions by ensuring that TfL works closely with cities across the country.

This includes assisting Transport for West Midlands with the development of its customer information platform, providing support and advice to Transport for Greater Manchester on bus franchising and and peer-reviewing Transport for the North’s proposals for smart-ticketing. Khan is now working with government to find a way of paying for the circa £32bn Crrossrail 2, in a way that makes it affordable for London and the rest of the country, his statement said.

“London grinding to a halt is not in the nation’s interests, and nor is it in the interests of London that the north of England’s transport network continues to be woefully inadequate," Khan said.

“We cannot afford for new infrastructure investment in any one region to be seen as a zero-sum game - if Britain’s economy is to succeed we need to see increased investment across the country. I will continue to provide any technical or political support I can to other mayors and local authorities across the UK in order to develop infrastructure plans in their areas.”