Investment in north 'not just about Manchester' says top Tory on visit to Blackpool

Paul Maynard and Jake Berry campaigning for the Fylde coast tram loop
Paul Maynard and Jake Berry campaigning for the Fylde coast tram loop
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Transport including the delivery of a multi-million pound tram loop around the Fylde coast has been put at the centre of the Conservative campaign to win seats in Blackpool.

Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry backed the plan put forward by the party's Blackpool North and Cleveleys candidate Paul Maynard during a visit to the Fylde on Thursday.

The loop proposes to use the mothballed rail track between Fleetwood and Poulton for trams, while the Kirkham to Blackpool South line would be converted from trains to trams.

The line then connect to the existing Blackpool to Fleetwood tramway.

Mr Berry said £150,000 had already been allocated to compiling a business case which would be included in priorities for Blackpool's Town Deal - set to draw £25m into the resort.

He said: "I am delighted Paul is continuing with his campaign to re-open the Fylde loop. It is a about reconnecting the Fylde coast so everyone can play their part in the making the most of the economic opportunities.

"I'm sure Blackpool will receive the full £25m available under the Town Deal due to the scale of its ambition and the exciting proposals it has produced."

He added: "All rail projects are very long term and the first step is to carry out a business case.

"Let's see what this comes up with, but I see it as absolutely key to driving the economy."

He said people were right to feel the government had invested more in transport projects in the south of England than the north, but the Northern Powerhouse would help reverse that.

He said: "There is a lot more to do and that's why we need to fund schemes like this that will change the lives of people living here in Blackpool and the surrounding area.

"Northern Powerhouse is not just about Manchester, it's about enabling all of these towns and villages in Lancashire to reach their potential."

Mr Maynard said investment in the Blackpool to Preston railway line had already boosted the Fylde economy

He added: "We have shown we can started to rebuild local infrastructure and this is the next stage of that."

Mr Berry was also due to meet with the Conservative candidate for Blackpool South Scott Benton to discuss future potential development at Blackpool Airport including maximising benefits from a transatlantic internet cable being brought ashore at Starr Gate.