Transport for the North's strategic transport plan unveiled this week has been greeted with dismay and caution by politicians, the media has reported.
The New Statesman led on a claim that John Prescott, the former Labour secretary of state responsible for transport, described the plan at its launch in Newcastle as "a bloody fraud," because TfN has no budget to execute its plans. It quoted him as saying that TfN can only "talk to the Treasury... it can't make a decision". Its headline gave credence to the view by describing it as a "wish list," but it also gave TfN the right to respond, and it said it was in a prime position "to ensure our plans are formally considered by Government when taking decisions about transport investment," only for the left-leaning publication to then add that Chris Grayling himself issued a "lukewarm" reaction to the plan when he said it was "an important step".
Meanwhile, Westmorland and Lonsdale MP and former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, writing in the North West's The Mail, said that there were "many things in the plan that make me nervous". He reiterated the point by Prescott that it was "just a plan" because TfN, unlike TfL, cannot raise money. He also criticised the plan for saying "very little in it about the needs of rural or semi-rrual communities like the ones we live in... the report recognises the importance of tourism to the North but makes very little mention of the improvements we all know are needed to road and importantly rail links in the Lake District". He was also "sceptical" about rail electrification plans.
The Warrington Guardian, in contrast, while emphasising that the plan was "an emerging vision," focused on positive comments from Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, who welcomed a move away from "the absurdly expensive and unnecessary Trans-Pennine road tunnel" and a "long overdue emphasis on rail investment".
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