Blyth Relief Road funding promise from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak met with praise and scepticism

A former council leader remains sceptical about a Blyth Relief Road project becoming reality despite the Prime Minister name-checking the route in a speech.
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The Prime Minister announced £460m to guarantee the delivery of 21 road schemes, including the Blyth Relief Road, at the Conservative Party Conference on Wednesday.

But Cllr Jeff Reid, who led Northumberland County Council’s Liberal Democrat administration between 2008 and 2013, said he was “not impressed” by Rishi Sunak’s government.

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The Prime Minister’s promise, announced in conjunction with the scrapping of the Birmingham to Manchester leg of HS2, has been welcomed by the area’s Conservative politicians, but Cllr Reid, who represents Blyth’s Plessey ward, remained unconvinced.

Some preparations for the Blyth Relief Road, such as a consultation on the route, have already taken place. (Photo by LDRS)Some preparations for the Blyth Relief Road, such as a consultation on the route, have already taken place. (Photo by LDRS)
Some preparations for the Blyth Relief Road, such as a consultation on the route, have already taken place. (Photo by LDRS)

Referencing the Britishvolt saga at nearby Cambois, Cllr Reid said: “Somebody standing there saying it is going to get done is like saying we are going to have the battery factory.

"We are not. It has already failed.

“The people of Blyth and Blyth Valley take all of this with a pinch of salt, because words are cheap and roads are expensive. It is a long way off.”

Council leader Glen Sanderson, however, welcomed the news. He said: “We very much welcome the announcements from the Prime Minister today and the fact he recognises the importance for our county and the wider region of having roads and infrastructure fit for the 21st Century.

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“While we look forward to finding more detail there are clear commitments to Northumberland.

“We had already submitted a business case to the Department for Transport to seek funding support for the Blyth Relief Road and were awaiting the outcome.

“We are therefore delighted at the announcement today, which demonstrates the strength of our funding bid.

"The Blyth Relief Road will bring huge benefits for the town and wider connectivity to the raft of new developments taking place in the area.

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“A lot of work is already taking place to progress the planning for this new road and this is a great boost, and will now enable us to take this scheme forward.”

This was echoed by Blyth Valley MP Ian Levy, who praised the Prime Minister for scrapping HS2.

He said: “I applaud the Prime Minister’s courage to make this decision. The facts have changed and so the decision must change.

"I have been making the case for the Blyth Relief Road for some time now and I am really delighted that the Prime Minister has included it in his speech.

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“These major investments in transport in the North will make lives better for so many more people than HS2 could ever have done.

"The government is delivering for both private and public transport users with major investments in roads, passenger rail services, and buses.

“We must not forget that all of this comes on the back of the major investment in the Northumberland Line which is being built now and will connect South East Northumberland to Tyneside next year.”

The dualling of the A1 between Morpeth and Ellingham was also included among the ‘Network North’ projects announced by the Prime Minister.