TRANSPORT: Survey will be a waste

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Friday, November 9, saw the inaugural meeting of the North of Tyne Combined Authority. This authority comprises Newcastle City Council, North Tyneside and Northumberland Councils.

The organisation will be given £600million from the government over the next 30 years.

Part of their remit will be housing, skills and regeneration as well as an elected and accountable mayor.

In his speech at the meeting, Coun Peter Jackson, Leader of Northumberland County Council ,stated that one of his priorities within the combined authority was to fund a feasibility study into the re-opening of the now disused South East Northumberland Rail Link.

Coun Jackson must be applauded for his futuristic vision in seeing the massive advantages to South East Northumberland this would bring.

The new rail network in Scotland, Borders Railway, which runs from Melrose to Edinburgh, has brought about a dramatic rise in tourism inward investment and existing firms employing more people in areas it passes through it also reports high passenger usage.

The same could occur for this area.

However, when the Tories became the biggest party in Northumberland with help from the Independents and Liberal Democrats, they cancelled all regeneration in South East Northumberland.

This included the annulment of the contract to build the new County Hall in Ashington along with any interest in resurrecting the South East Rail Line.

The question must be asked is Coun Jackson aware that the previous Labour administration commissioned a major in depth feasibility study into the opening of the line. This included the rail infrastructure, economic and social benefits to those living within the rail corridor along with future private investment.

The new feasibility study suggested by Coun Jackson will cost millions. This would appear to be an absolute waste of public money when there is within the public domain a detailed and concise report funded by Northumberland County Council under the last Labour administration.

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