Milton Keynes Labour have attacked the Conservative government after a national political press release announced a competition to be home for the HQ of a new organisation being created to replace Network Rail to run Britain’s railways.
The announcement will put cities in competition with each other to be home to the new HQ, with the government saying that moving skilled jobs out of London will “level-up” the competition winner.
However, in reality many thousands of highly skilled technical and head office jobs for Network Rail are already based outside London in Milton Keynes, with the vast majority of its HQ business taking place in the purposely built and iconic Quadrant building in Central Milton Keynes.
Very few details are available of what the proposals may mean, and Labour city leaders are calling for answers as to why the announcement was made with no details and are calling for clarity on what it will mean for high-skilled jobs in Milton Keynes.
MK Labour have vowed to bid for the HQ but fears that the government agenda is to “level-down” MK to boost jobs in the North. Labour says they will fight any plans to move jobs from MK.
Councillor Peter Marland, Leader of MK Council said:“The Conservative Party announcement that it is looking for a new home for Great British Railways is a kick in the teeth to every member of staff that works for Network Rail in Milton Keynes. The Quadrant is already the de facto HQ of Network Rail – with thousands of skilled jobs based here in the city.”
He continued: “We have not been able to find any more detail on what these plans mean. It is a disgrace that the government are making policy by press release and then not being able to provide any more facts. It smacks of a desperate attempt to find something to say about so called “levelling-up” and moving jobs out of London. However, they don’t seem to understand Network Rail and the skills they are talking about are already mainly based here in MK – and last time I checked Milton Keynes was not in London! People will be worried by the lack of clarity and the slip-shod way it was made public with few answers.”
He concluded: “We will look at bidding for the HQ but the language being used indicates already successful places like MK need not apply. Levelling-up the rest of the UK must not mean levelling down Milton Keynes. We need urgent clarity that jobs based here in MK are safe and we will fight any plans to take them away.”