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Keir Starmer commits to working with mayors on new railway line

Tuesday, 28 May 2024 14:50

By Ethan Davies, Local Democracy Reporter

Keir Starmer has pledged to work with Andy Burnham to make a new Liverpool-Manchester railway a reality. 

In the Labour leader’s first visit to the north west on this year’s general election campaign, he told the LDRS at C&W Berry timber yard in Lancashire  ‘I am already talking to them about it’.

“I want to ensure that whatever plan we put in place and fund is the right plan for the north west,” he added from the Ribble South seat, which has been Conservative since 2010.

“That means working with our mayors. What I’ve said to them is there’s no preconditions about exactly what this looks like, but we need your input into what is the infrastructure. Northern Powerhouse Rail is really, really important — everyone in the north west appreciates that — but so are the trams and the buses. 

“We’ve got to look at it in the round. But this will not be done from Whitehall looking into the north west and deciding what’s best. It will be done with local leaders in the north west, particularly our mayors.

“Without getting ahead of the general election, I’ve already started those discussions with Andy Burnham and Steve Rotherham.”

However, when asked specifically if he would commit to funding an underground Manchester Piccadilly station, Mr Starmer would not be drawn. 

The second day of campaigning also saw Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was committed to passing Martyn’s Law. On Wednesday (May 22), Mr Sunak met with Figen Murray, the mother of Martyn Hett, who was killed in the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing. That coincided with the end of her walk from the Arena to Number 10 to campaign for the passage of the law, which would require venues and local authorities in the UK to have training requirements and preventative plans against terror attacks.

Her 200-mile trek finished on the seventh anniversary of the attack, where she was reportedly told by the Mr Sunak he would introduce Martyn’s Law to Parliament before summer recess, but could not guarantee the legislation would be passed before the next election.

Hours later, he called a general election. Ms Murray said she felt ‘let down by all the promises that were made and broken’.

That’s prompted the PM to clarify his position, telling journalists: “I said by summer recess and that will still be possible. 

“The election is in the first week of July. Parliament will reconvene immediately after that, so there will still be time to bring that law in before summer recess, and that’s what I remain committed to doing.”

The general election will be held on Thursday, July 4. 

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