Luke Pollard, MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport has criticised the Government’s North East transport and devolution deal for leaving Plymouth and the far South West behind.
The Prime Minister last week confirmed an investment of up to £780 million for major upgrades to the East Coast Main Line from 2019 and an unprecedented transfer of powers from central Government worth £600 million over 30 years, expected to generate 10,000 new jobs in the region.
Responding to this announcement, Luke Pollard MP called for urgent investment to improve resilience for the South West’s transport links, particularly around Dawlish where parts of the rail line was washed away in the 2014 storms.
The Plymouth Labour MP has also called for a renewed focus on improving journey times from Plymouth to London from 3h 30m on average to 2h 15m in line with recommendations from the Peninsula Task Force Rail Report and asked local Conservative to stand with him in rejecting the poor deal for the far South West.
Last year, the Government missed a deadline to give £600,000 to improve journey times from Plymouth to Exeter by three minutes. In comparison, Labour has backed and have pledged £2.5 billion to fund all immediate recommendations of the Peninsular Rail Taskforce Report. Despite being set up by Tory councils following the 2014 storms the PRTF has been completely ignored by Government and targets have been missed.
Luke Pollard MP said:
“This Tory government is pumping billions into London, the North and the Midlands to try and win votes in marginal seats but yet again there’s nothing but recycled and tired promises for the South West. Our trainline was supposed to be the Government’s “number one priority” for rail but we all know that is just desperate spin. Where is the money for the south west?”
“Theresa May needs to match Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to fund the next ten years of rail upgrades we need with a £2.5bn commitment. If there’s money for London again, there’s money for Devon and Cornwall. I will continue to push for a fair deal for the far South West and hope that more of the region’s Conservative MPs start realising that the Government is taking them for granted. It’s time we raised our voice and got the rail funding we deserve and have been promised by the Government. It’s time for Ministers to put up or shut up when it comes to rail funding.”
Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“Making Britain a country that works for everyone, in urban and rural regions, is a priority for my Government – and a thriving economy across the Northern Powerhouse is central to that.”
“We have set out major policies and investments as part of our Modern Industrial Strategy to unlock the potential in the North – and more than any government in history, we are making sure that we are delivering the outcomes that really matter to people who live and work here.”