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Marginal Constituencies in East Lancashire ignored in the Budget

Please see the following SELRAP Press Release:

PRESS RELEASE 7 th March 2024 @ 17:00 Jane Wood: SELRAP Media Officer. Contact or 01282 815787

"Accrington, in the heart of East Lancashire, was where the Prime Minister and Chancellor relaunched the Conservative Party’s election manifesto commitment for Levelling Up. The Skipton to Colne rail project runs through key “Red Wall” constituencies. Yet, over a year after those promises to Level Up were made, not a penny promised for new transport project has been delivered anywhere in this region in this week’s budget. Monies released by the recent cancellation of part of HS2 were supposed to be spent on transformational transport projects across “The North”.

However East Lancashire, including Accrington, has once again been ignored by the Chancellor and PM in this week’s budget. East Lancashire is one of the most deprived places in England. Thus, SELRAP has been working with Government Ministers, civil servants, and Network Rail to reinstate the strategic trans-Pennine Skipton to Colne railway. It would reconnect long-marginalised east Lancashire to numerous employment opportunities in Yorkshire. This transformation project has an excellent business case!

SELRAP’s chair Peter Bryson said: • “All Members of Parliament along the route all fully support this vital project and they all want it delivered quickly. This truly-transformation project requires just a tiny fraction of the funding released by the cancellation of HS2. To deliver on its election manifesto promises to Level Up, this Government needs to put its money where its mouth is”

The Press Release also has a Photo of Prime Minister Rushi Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt outside Accrington Market Hall on 19th January 2023; Photo Courtesy of Sara Britcliffe, the MP for Hyndburn (who is on the left)

Notes to Editors 1. SELRAP is a campaign group: the Skipton and East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership. 2. SELRAP has about 500 members and enjoys wide support from politicians and key businesses. 3. SELRAP is campaigning to restore the 12-mile long Skipton to Colne railway. 4. This project will give several very large communities transformational transport links; in particular by providing fast links to the northern powerhouse cities of Leeds and Bradford for education and employment opportunities. 5. The new route would serve Accrington, Burnley and Pendle; three large towns with a combined population of over quarter of a million people. 6. Journey times into Leeds and Bradford would be transformed: down to little over an hour. 7. The Department for Transport and Network Rail have already developed a sound business case for the Skipton to Colne project. This would cost £300million (i.e. approx. 1% of the government’s planned spending of Northern Powerhouse Rail). 8. The project is across a green-field site; so it is both low risk and also can be quickly delivered. 9. Of over 300+ councils in England, four of the five council areas along the route are in the most deprived 10%, with three out of the five being in the most deprived 5%. 10. These towns relative deprivation has worsened markedly in recent years. All towns along the route continue to fall further behind the rest of the North. 11. The project runs through the town centres of many marginal Red Wall constituencies: a) Philip Davies – Conservative MP for Shipley. b) Robbie Moore – Conservative MP for Keighley and Ilkley. c) Julian Smith – Conservative MP for Skipton and Ripon (Note. Neighbouring the PM). d) Andrew Stephenson – Conservative MP for Pendle (Note. Former HS2 Minister). e) Anthony Higginbotham – Conservative MP for Burnley. f) Sara Britcliffe – Conservative MP for Hyndburn (in photo above).

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