Bridge over the Irwell
Thought it was about time I got back to blogging after a break that's been rather a lot longer than my summer holiday ( now long forgotten ). A bit of a transport theme today. Currently on my way back from a Northern Powerhouse Partnership meeting in Leeds. Some great proposals on how we use the prime capabilities identified in the Northern Independent Economic Review to build a more productive North.
We were then joined by the Secretary State for Transport who was probably as positive as we could reasonably expect on HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, said government were totally committed to improving the existing Leeds- Manchester line, and had asked Network Rail to come back to him with an option that would deliver 24 through trains per hour at Piccadilly ( compared to the current plan of 15 ). He also said that we shouldn't be doing things that closed off options for future growth.
Today also saw an event to mark the completion of the Oxford Road bus priority scheme, even though, because of various building sites along Oxford Road, it isn't quite finished. The scheme not only improves things for buses but also for pedestrians and cyclists and has helped create a far better overall environment. It has been a long-term objective for the Oxford Road Partnership and has been delivered after a four year journey by a partnership between the City Council and TfGM.
Yesterday, Paul Dennett, Salford's City Mayor and I had, along with our respective Chief Executives, one of our regular meetings. We were a bit surprised to see on the MEN website that we were falling out but didn't spend time on that as we had quite a big agenda of things we are working together on to get through - strategic highways including improvements to the Regent Road/Inner Relief Road junction aimed at increasing capacity by 30%; school improvement; co-operation on the city centre issues of rough sleeping and begging which don't stop at the River Irwell; and a joint programme of strategic acquisitions. On housing, the Combined Authority is putting together a prioritised bid to the government's Housing Infrastructure Fund, and we agreed that the Salford and Manchester elements which have been evaluated as the top two schemes, should be made into a single even more powerful bid. We even talked about the possibility of another new bridge across the Irwell.