North Wales Liberal Democrat AM Aled Roberts is calling on the Welsh Government to give more priority to improving rail and road links with Manchester and Liverpool.
Mr Roberts’ call came after the England’s Northern Cities announcement that they are bidding for a £15 billion plan to improve transport links was backed by the Chancellor, George Osborne.
“In June the Chancellor called for the creation of a ‘northern global powerhouse,’” commented Aled Roberts. “And now the northern cities are making a similar call it seems likely that the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement will contain some major financial commitments to improve transport.
“If the Welsh Government continues their policy of concentrating only on improving transport links between north and south Wales, then we in North Wales could lose out on a golden opportunity to benefit from major investment in England’s North West.
“Already large numbers of people commute from North Wales to the Liverpool and Manchester conurbations but commuting is a nightmare as a result of road congestion and the lack of direct commuting trains.
“Indeed from December, if current plans are maintained, we are likely to lose a key commuting service from Llandudno to Manchester and I have written to both the Welsh Government’s transport minister and Arriva Trains Wales to try and save it.
“Just one per cent of the £1,000,000m that is being spent on improving the M4 around Newport could give Wrexham direct train services to Manchester and Liverpool. Only £10m is required to dual most of the line between Wrexham and Chester so that more trains can run.
“Are Labour’s Welsh Government in contact with Labour’s city leaders in the North of England? Judging by recent publicity it seems that a Conservative Chancellor has more contact those Labour leaders than a Labour one in Cardiff.
“The problem is that Welsh Labour think Cardiff and South Wales and our Labour leaders in the North are too weak to challenge that bias. A billion is being spent on the M4 to give South Wales better access to
England’ booming South East but they will not consider investing in better connectivity between North Wales and England’s Northern cities as they plan economic growth.
“I hope that Labour’s Welsh Leadership change their mind because if they do not, then in fifteen years’ time we in North Wales will be watching economic development in England’s Northern Cities unable to take part or reap any benefit.”