Treasury confirms Greater Manchester will receive £1.07bn in capital funding

Andy Burnham was all smiles this weekend after the Treasury confirmed that Manchester will receive £1.07bn in capital funding at the budget announcement on Wednesday.

The money will go towards infrastructure spending in Greater Manchester, specifically the Bee Network which aims to build a London-style transport network, integrating buses and trams, as well as cycling and road infrastructure improvements.

We are now hopeful that the Government will soon build on this foundation and match this allocation with revenue funding to make our Bee Network vision a reality

The announcement follows Burnham’s efforts to lobby senior Tories at the Conservative Party Conference which was held in the city earlier this month. Burnham was active at many of the conference’s fringe events and is reported to have made a beeline for Michael Gove especially.

Attempts to improve relations with the new Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, appeared to have worked.

Mayor Andy Burnham Launches New Bike Hire Scheme For Manchester
Cycling infrastructure and the new Bee Network bikes will be boosted

Burnham’s Billion

The Treasury announcement, which came out on Friday night ahead of the budget on Wednesday, saw a £6.9bn spending boost for city regions aimed at improving transport infrastructure.

Greater Manchester received the highest allocation, with the West Midlands (£1.05bn), West Yorkshire (£830m), Liverpool city region (£710m), South Yorkshire (£570m), West of England (£540m) and Tees Valley (£310) also set to receive funding.

The New Manchester Bee Network Travel Options Which Were Paraded Outside Of The Tory Conference In Manchester
It appears that parking buses (read tanks) on the metaphorical Conservative Party Conference lawn worked

Welcoming Friday night’s announcement, the Mayor of Greater Manchester said:

“This is an important first step towards a London-style public transport system for Greater Manchester and we welcome this announcement from the Chancellor. We believe it shows the Government is listening to the case that Greater Manchester is making.”

“As welcome as it is, infrastructure investment alone will not make levelling up feel real to the people of Greater Manchester. That will only happen when the frequency and coverage of bus services are increased and fares are lowered to London levels.”

“So we are now hopeful that the Government will soon build on this foundation and match this allocation with revenue funding to make our Bee Network vision a reality.”

Burnham has confirmed an additional bid to help fund the ongoing cost of the infrastructure has also been lodged, with a Treasury decision expected on the services bid - funding to help support the frequency of services and the driving down of fares - in November.

A Metrolink Tram Leaving Exchange Square In Manchester On The Way To St Peters Square
Tram fares and and service frequency will be at the behest of the November bid

Level me up, Tory boi

One small step for levelling up, one big step for Manchester appears to be the feeling surrounding the latest announcement, although, in news appearances over the weekend, Burnham was keen to stress the infancy of the project. Infrastructure is a promising start but the running of services will be another major challenge going forward.

A Metrolink Tram Arriving Into St Peters Square Station In Manchester
The Burnham billion will go towards levelling-up transport

Speaking to the Press Association over the weekend, Burnham also touched upon what the funding meant for the government’s levelling up agenda: 

“It feels like levelling up is about to go into a new phase which is more delivery-oriented and that I think will create a better sense of alignment between government at a regional level or city-region level and at national level, because we’re all wanting to see the change then.”

The budget on Wednesday will also provide additional context to government commitments to northern transport infrastructure funding with updates on extensions to HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Read next: Andy Burnham on Manchester's climate goals - 'I see this as an economic opportunity for us'

Read again: Ten reasons the Conservative Party Conference was great for Manchester

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