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Friday, 19 September 2014

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It’s all gone south for us northeners

I never was very good at Geography. All that geology and savannah grasslands was dull.

And our teacher always got a flask of soup out of his briefcase halfway through, so the class stank of cabbage.

But even I learned enough to know that Carlisle lies in the north of England.

Yet our great city has not been included in a major new report calling for £15bn worth of funding to improve road and rail services in the region over 15 years.

The One North report was drawn up by Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield.

It was backed by Chancellor George Osborne who has already said he is keen on seeing a ‘northern global powerhouse’ developed to balance the influence of London.

All five cities are keen to develop a high speed cross-Pennine rail link, quicker connections with Newcastle and better links with Manchester airport.

All decided not to include Carlisle in the scheme.

According to city council leader Colin Glover, we’re simply too small to count on the big stage.

He says: “We were not approached about this.

“We heard about it once they had done it.

“When this was first mooted, I said there was an awful lot of north to the north of Manchester.

“They are big cities and they don’t see smaller cities like us as having economic clout.

“We are not even on the radar a lot of the time. It is extremely frustrating.

“We have been making our own approaches to the Government about getting a slice of this.”

So the message to us is: ‘know your place.’

We’re in a different league to the cities, so we don’t qualify to be included in any major multi-billion improvement schemes.

Even though shipping products and material across country to and from Newcastle would be so much easier with better road and rail links from Carlisle, rather than having to use increasingly clogged and disintegrating A roads.

Of course we have a small population and are not as industrially developed as our northern neighbours.

But that should be viewed as undeveloped potential, rather than stunted growth.

We have international big names such as McVitie’s, Pirelli and Nestlé. There’s no reason why we should not host more.

The massive investment in the nuclear industry and Barrow shipyards is all well and good, but there is an imbalance here.

We need more and varied businesses and job opportunities.

To achieve this we need our MPs and our local politicians to forge closer ties with their counterparts in these neighbouring cities so we can keep pace with developments like this and be involved in them.

We need to be seen as a part of such adventurous and far reaching schemes as One North, not apart from it.

We are part of the north. We can and should play our part in its much-needed revival.

Have your say

Electrification of Carlisle - Newcastle rail line was highlighted recently as being of great importance as a relief route between two already electrified main lines on east and west coast main lines in England. Here's hoping those who make such decisions heed the importance of the east west link.It isn't just of importance to Cumbria so maybe something will happen sooner rather than later.

Posted by city resident on 18 September 2014 at 11:11

Untapped potential indeed. Yet you have to wonder if, in times of austerity, Carlisle will ever be given the chance to grow to its true potential.

Having said this, the population is growing and road and rail links are improving. Carlisle train station handles 50% more passengers now than it did ten years ago. And the CNDR was a welcome boost.

Compared to Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds though, Carlisle is much smaller and slower when it comes to developing. So the question should be this. If WE can't have our own airport, then why should we have to use a congested, mostly single-carriage road to access our closest international airport?

If Carlisle and Cumbria as a whole is never going to be cosmopolitan enough to stand on its own two feet then lets at least make sure we forge far better links with those that are. In other words, electrify the Newcastle - Carlisle - Whitehaven rail line and upgrade the A595 - A69 to dual-carriageway standard. Oh and include Carlisle as a stopping point for HS2. Atleast then Cumbria can have the transport links it deserves.

Posted by Mike Sansom on 17 September 2014 at 12:54

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