Call for "North First" infrastructure plan

Infrastructure spending is six times higher in London than the North of England, prompting a think tank to for a "North First" approach that allows the region to take control of funding decisions.

New research from the Institute for Public Policy Research shows London will get £1,870 per person from 2016-17 to 2020-21, whereas the North will average £280 per person.

Over the same period, total spending on Crossrail alone will exceed spending on all projects in the North at £4.6bn to £4.3bn.

In a letter to new transport secretary Chris Grayling, the IPPR calls for a North First approach to infrastructure investment, including 10-year devolved budgets, arguing the region's "world-class cities, ports, universities, energy assets and bodies like Transport for the North make it ideally placed to creative inclusive growth and build Theresa May's 'better Britain'."

It sets out four priorities: Using record-low interest rates to raise £50bn in "catch-up cash" to invest in Northern rail and road priorities; persuading the Treasury to overhaul its "flawed" funding model and introducing new ways of assessing the benefits of transport schemes;  a new Clean Air Act for major cities; and ensuring the passage of the Buses Bill, which along with the creation of metro mayors and London-style transport powers in major English cities, will make a "genuine difference to the daily lives of millions".

In addition, the IPPR said plans for HS3 - an East-West high-speed rail crossing for the North - should be brought forward urgently, even if it means taking priority over HS2.

Ed Cox, director of IPPR North, said: "The referendum result showed that now more than ever, we need a North First approach to investment.

"The North of England's £300bn economy is worth more than those of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combined. Focusing on this is going to be critical in creating the prosperity our country is going to need over the coming years.

"The North must also take control of its own funding decisions. The evidence shows that this would help boost growth, ditching HM Treasury's outdated and ineffective model, better suited to mitigating congestion than driving new economic growth."

Tom Kibasi, director of IPPR, added: "The time it takes to travel, on hugely dated infrastructure, between our great regional cities is a national disgrace - this is just not what happens in Germany, Japan or France, with their fantastic rail links, or the United States, with its highly developed regional air travel.

"Given the Brexit result, the North of England must urgently see growing prosperity. A proper East-West crossing would boost Northern and UK growth, and must now take priority above all other major transport projects, including Crossrail 2 and HS2."