Chamber representatives have met with senior Department for Transport officials, including the Permanent Secretary, Bernadette Kelly CB.
The department’s Executive Committee (a team of top civil servants all based in Whitehall) were in West Yorkshire as part of a fact-finding mission to assist in their knowledge of relevant issues and support for ministers. The meeting, chaired and hosted by Addleshaw Goddard’s Sara Gilmore, who heads up the Chamber Transport Group, received presentations on key transport issues for Bradford, Leeds and North Yorkshire from members. The group also discussed better connectivity, the prospect for greater investment and the likelihood of devolution for the area.
Attendees included Leeds and York & North Yorkshire Vice-Presidents, Amanda Beresford and Andrew Digwood, Chamber Chairman Gerald Jennings and Chief Executive Sandy Needham. Drax Power Management and Leeds Bradford Airport were also represented.
Ian Williams, for the Chamber’s policy team, said afterwards: “The Executive Committee were clearly in listening mode for the meeting although, as with most things these days, each and every transport project needs the most robust and vigorous business case for it to get a hearing. Our members demonstrated the wider benefits of investment in transport, including social mobility and community cohesion, aswell as enhanced business productivity and economic growth. The meeting was beneficial to both sides and we will continue to press our case to ministers on a number of projects we feel are needed to assist business growth.”
Aswell as stressing the need for better rail-freight connectivity via a renewed Skipton-Colne rail link, and improved surface access to the airport, the DfT officials heard the cases for a Northern Powerhouse Rail station in Bradford, a fully-costed and integrated HS2 city station, and the dualling of York’s Outer Ring Road (A1237).