Category Archives: Northern Powerhouse

“When did ministers know TransPennine would be shelved” – Jo Cox

First TransPennine ExpressResponding to revelations in minutes from Network Rail about when plans to shelve the electrification of the TransPennine rail route were agreed, Batley & Spen MP Jo Cox said:

“I asked ministers directly in Parliament when they knew of the plans to shelve the TransPennine electrification and they refused to answer. Instead we got bluster and evasion and misdirection.

“Did they know before the election and keep the news secret until afterwards? It now looks like the smoking gun has been unearthed.

“The content of Network Rail minutes, obtained through an FoI request, shows ministers must have known that the electrification  was going to be ‘paused’.

“When the transport secretary said before the election that the Conservatives would electrify 800 miles of track he must have known about the Network Rail decision.

“He should come to the House of Commons immediately to explain this situation fully and openly.”

Call for government to end north/south divide on business rates

Reunion CafeA Yorkshire MP is demanding the Government step in to address the way businesses in the region have been punished by the decision to postpone the revaluation of business rates.

Jo Cox, Labour MP for Batley & Spen, said that while businesses in London and the south east have benefited from the present business rates regime, those in other regions appear to be losing out.

In 2013 the Coalition government announced, without warning, that it was postponing the revaluation of business rates.

“What this means is that businesses have been paying rates during the most difficult, depressed climate that were set before the financial crash. They will have to continue paying at this level for two more years,” said Mrs Cox

“The government’s gaze is firmly fixed on London and the south east and upon helping larger businesses. I am worried they have no concern for business in Yorkshire, particularly smaller enterprises in the retail sector in our town centres.”

Mrs Cox has tabled a motion in Parliament calling on the Government to take action to address this problem.

“Speaking with traders in towns in Batley & Spen it is clear that business rates are a major issue and a major barrier to both new start ups and growth for existing businesses,” she said.

Business rates are based on valuations made in 2008, prior to the world financial crash and ensuing recessions. By postponing the revaluation the crucial link with rental values has been severed.

Mrs Cox added: “With rents falling, business rates have stayed as they were. A revaluation would have meant business rates fall in many parts of the country.”

Mrs Cox is now calling on the government to address this problem urgently, help small businesses and towns by creating a more conducive environment in which smaller businesses and town centres can grow and thrive.

She also asks the government to use its imminent review of the business rates system to ensure there is a fair mechanism that enables companies to generate jobs, create wealth and growth within communities.

Statement on postponement of major rail upgrade

First TransPennine ExpressFollowing the announcement that major improvements to the Trans Pennine rail route have been suspended, with set date for completion, Batley & Spen MP Jo Cox said:

“Within a matter of weeks of their Northern Powerhouse fanfare the government has kicked one of the most important transport infrastructure projects for businesses and commuters in the north of England into the long grass, apparently indefinitely.

“Reports that this announcement was timed for after the election are very worrying. It shows a disregard for the electorate and for businesses in Yorkshire. Businesses fear the Government is at best indifferent to the north, at worst contemptuous, and is fixated only with London and the south east.

“I sincerely hope it is not the case and the Government will show some commitment to upholding its own promises and ending this north/south divide.”

Batley Station in Mrs Cox’s constituency is on the Trans Pennine route.

Mrs Cox will raise today’s news with the Transport Secretary and write to Network Rail to ask for more information about the implications of today’s announcement.