Boost for major North East transport plan

Plans for a £7billion transport revolution in the North East – which will help Blyth – have been officially endorsed.

Thursday, 8th April 2021, 10:00 am
Blyth bus station.

The region’s seven councils and North of Tyne mayor have given their backing to a vision that would dramatically alter the road, rail, bus, walking, and cycling infrastructure by 2035.

Almost 250 projects costing an estimated £6.8bn are listed in the new North East Transport Plan, including a new bus station for Blyth, a new relief road for the town, and the re-opening of the Northumberland Line.

Other projects include extensions of the Metro system, the creation of a contactless payment system connecting all forms of public transport in the North East, and dualling the A1 all the way to the Scottish border.

But delivering on the lofty ambitions will be dependent on Government agreeing to put up the money for them, something which local leaders say would only represent a “fair share” for the North East after decades of neglect.

Gateshead Council leader Martin Gannon told the North East Joint Transport Committee (JTC) that London receives £3,636 per person in transport funding – seven times more than the £519 per head in the North East.

Coun Gannon, who chairs the JTC, added: “I expect London to get more money spent on it than the North East of England. Something like a quarter or a fifth of the population of the whole UK lives in London or the Greater London area and is responsible for about 56% of GDP.

“I fully get it, I am not stupid. But this is per head, and the figure for the North East of England is £519 per head.

“I don’t want anything special, we don’t want the North East to get any more than its fair share. All we want is a level playing field.

“This is 20, 30, 40, 50 years of disproportionate underfunding and all we want is a fair share.”

North of Tyne mayor Jamie Driscoll added: “They [the Government] keep telling the whole country how they are levelling us up – here is the shovel-ready scheme they need, they just need to give us the money and we will do it.”

Almost 3,400 people responded to a six-week consultation on the huge transport plan.