• Transport Secretary to chair Northern Transport Acceleration Council after hosting a business roundtable
  • Series of meetings with political and business leaders to focus on driving forward the North’s economic recovery and building back better from the impacts of Covid-19
  • Transport Secretary will also meet with Northern MPs to discuss Northern Powerhouse policies

Transport Secretary and Northern Powerhouse Minister Grant Shapps will this week meet with nearly 50 political and business leaders from across the North, to discuss the Government’s plans to drive forward the region’s economic recovery from Covid-19.

Speaking to mayors and council leaders at the second virtual meeting of the Northern Transport Acceleration Council (NTAC) today (9 December), the Transport Secretary will reaffirm his commitment to fast-tracking the delivery of infrastructure upgrades as the country builds back better from the pandemic.

It comes after he joined HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson at a virtual roundtable with Northern business leaders yesterday to discuss how the Government and firms can work together to create jobs and boost skills while delivering net zero plans and generating local growth.

And next week, the Transport Secretary will meet with Northern MPs to explore what can be done across Westminster to expediate the delivery of Northern Powerhouse policies.

Transport Secretary with Cabinet responsibility for the Northern Powerhouse Grant Shapps said: “Covid-19 has demonstrated that it is more critical than ever that we turbo-charge our efforts to power up the North. We’re focused on building back better, and dedicated to ensuring people see real change as swiftly as possible.

“These discussions will inform how the Government can work together with leaders across the North to kickstart recovery in the region, create jobs, develop skills and generate opportunities for communities.”

The meetings today come two weeks after the publication of the Government’s Spending Review in late November, which announced a new £4 billion Levelling Up Fund to invest in local infrastructure that has a visible impact on people and their communities.

Reforms to the Treasury’s ‘Green Book’ spending rules were also announced to refocus investment on poorer areas and spread opportunity right across the UK.

Speaking following yesterday’s business roundtable, Emma Degg, Chief Executive of North West Business Leadership Team said: “These are difficult times for businesses across the North West, and this has been a tough year. However, we are also home to a number of investment opportunities that can support the Government to build back better, particularly through Net Zero NW, and the opportunity to discuss this with the Minister was invaluable.

“His commitment to working with us to ‘level’ up, investing in both infrastructure and our people was clear, and we look forward to working together to build a brighter future.”

The Transport Secretary will be joined at the NTAC meeting by the HS2 Minister, Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris and Roads Minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton.

Alongside discussing the outcome of the Spending Review and Green Book reforms, the Council will be updated on the work of the Department’s newly-established Acceleration Unit – which began operating in October – and its role in speeding up the delivery of Northern priorities.

The Transport Secretary will also today chair the first meeting of a panel of experts with experience across a range of sectors, who will work with the Acceleration Unit to unblock issues on key transport programmes and push forward progress for passengers.