UK Government mocked for claiming £235m of HS2 money spent in London ‘part of Network North’
The UK Government has been widely mocked on social media for claiming £235 million of HS2 money being spent in London is part of its Network North pledge.
Under new proposals, road repairs in London boroughs such as Hillingdon, Bromley and Barnet will be funded by money originally allocated for HS2, before it was scrapped in October this year.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said the redirected HS2 funding will “ensure road users across London have smoother, faster and safer journeys”.
Senior Labour politicians such as deputy leader Angela Rayner, shadow transport minister Louise Haigh and Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham are among those who took to X, formerly Twitter, to criticise the Government.
Ms Rayner, who represents Ashton-under-Lyne, wrote: “Hang on. HS2 money, pledged to ‘level up’ the North. Cancelled. Re-directed to London.
“Are they for real?”
Ms Haigh, MP for Sheffield, Heeley, described the announcement as “ludicrous”.
She added: “Now it turns out ‘Network North’ actually means repairing roads in London. You couldn’t make it up.”
Meanwhile, Mr Burnham wrote: “‘Network North’ seems to include everywhere – except the North.”
Mayor of the Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram branded the announcement “gerrymandering”, and said the North’s potential is being constrained.
Mr Rotheram said: “Unless Network North is shorthand for Network North Circular, I really fail to see how fixing roads in London will help to improve journey times between Liverpool and Manchester, get more freight onto rail, or make a jot of difference to a single person in the North.
“It’s more smoke and mirrors from the Government, a PR stunt from a photo-op Prime Minister who is more interested in shiny graphics for social media than tackling the issues facing real people. The North’s potential is being constrained by creaking, overburdened infrastructure, which is crying out for high-speed links and additional capacity.
“It’s the kind of gerrymandering that would even make the Republican Party blush.
“The question now is, if the Government believes that London is now part of the North, will our area start to see the same level of public transport investment as when London was in the South?”
The Department of Transport said the funding is part of an £8.3 billion investment to resurface more than 5,000 miles of roads across England.
Between now and March, £7.5 million is to be made available, followed by a further £7.5 million in 2024/2025, with the remainder extending until 2034.
Over the next year, Hillingdon will receive £354,000, £455,000 for Bromley and £368,000 for Barnet.
Announcing the funding, Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “This Government is on the side of drivers and is investing £235 million to improve and repair London’s roads, part of the biggest-ever funding uplift for local road improvements.
“This funding is part of a long-term, 11-year plan to ensure road users across London have smoother, faster and safer journeys by using redirected HS2 funding to make the right long-term decisions for a brighter future.”
On X, Mr Harper wrote that it was “great that people are talking about our Network North plan” and claimed that “every penny of the £19.8 billion committed to the Northern leg of HS2 will be reinvested in the North”.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.