Stephen Hepburn MP: Public transport must be under public control

Railway tracks.
Railway tracks.

What a cheek for the Conservatives to spend nearly all the transport money hundreds of miles away from us.

Theresa May’s Tories are treating this like a Northern Poor House by giving our region just £299 per person for buses, rail and roads while splashing out more than three times as much, £973 per head, on Londoners.

Look at it another way and our beloved North East received just £3.15million for transport compared with the Big Smoke’s £30.64million.

Our country is an unfair Two Nation Britain in so many ways when the Con-servatives reward their elite friends at the cost of people who do the graft.

The Tories have offered the Virgin Group and the giant Stagecoach group a way out by giving them a free ticket out of a promise to write cheques for the public purse in return for running the East Coast franchise until 2023.

Tory rail privatisation’s a great train robbery in itself and Labour’s promise to take back control by nationalising the network, so it’s owned and run by Great Britain, is one of our biggest vote winners.

It was criminal when travellers went back to work this month after the Christmas and New Year holiday the cost of fares rose 3.4%, the highest increase for five years.

Ticket prices have now rocketed 27% since the Con-servatives crawled back into office in 2010. That’s twice the rise in wages. No wonder living standards are squeezed, millions of hard-working families worse off not better.

The prediction the railways would become a “rich man’s toy” we heard a while back from Conservative Chancellor Philip Hammond, a millionaire property developer who doesn’t give tuppence for working people, is becoming a reality under these grim Tories.

It is a bad joke the ideologically deranged Conservatives are stupidly opposed to public ownership of rail by Britain yet let the state railways of France, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Italy and China make a fortune out of ours.

Three times private operators have crashed or broken down on the East Coast line down to London and up to Edinburgh.

If what works is what matters then let us, the people of Britain, own our railway and make it work for us – not billionaires and foreign Governments.

And the Conservatives have another thing coming if they think we should go down on bended knee and thank them for finally giving us a little of what we’re due to build new trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

The £337million is late, very late, and a fraction of what the Conservatives are spending down south.

Tory priorities are all wrong as proved by the punishment beatings they inflict on working Britons, particularly in the North East.

We’re entitled to fair, decent treatment. Restoring public ownership, British public ownership, is in the national interest.

For me, it’s a no brainer. Public transport – buses as well as trains – must be under public control in the public interest.