North 'needs transport investment'

A report has highlighted the regional disparities in transport investment in the UK, warning that major schemes in northern England could suffer from the spending divide.

The report by the House of Commons Transport Committee further warned that the regional imbalances could worsen leading to important projects being disregarded.

The committee has now called on the Government to publish a White Paper "clarifying its objectives for all transport spending and the criteria it will use for deciding between different claims on the available resources".

Louise Ellman, chairman of the committee, said: "The Government must do more to correct regional disparities in transport investment.

"Transport spending in London for 2008/09 was almost twice the UK average per capita and with schemes like (the cross-London) Crossrail (project) this trend looks set to continue."

The Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, who launched the report, added: "The economic recession has however had a bigger impact in the North so there is an urgent need for increased investment in transport schemes within and between northern cities - such as the Northern Hub rail scheme - in order to boost their capacity for economic growth."

Mrs Ellman added that a fully integrated economic development strategy to back up ministers' vision for transport investment was "so far absent".

She also said that the Government needed a much stronger strategy for developing the UK's major ports and airports.

The report said short-term cuts to road maintenance might increase long-term costs, while it was "likely" that high-benefit, small schemes could be cut disproportionately as a result of new transport funding arrangements.

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