Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North Can Be Lottery Winner - If We Vote; Environment Today Environment Editor Tony Henderson on a Bid to Make the Going Easier in the North-East

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North Can Be Lottery Winner - If We Vote; Environment Today Environment Editor Tony Henderson on a Bid to Make the Going Easier in the North-East

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Henderson

THE people of the North-East are being urged this weekend to vote for plans which would mean a pounds 10m kitty towards easier travelling in the region.

The scheme by sustainable transport charity Sustrans is one of four candidates for the Big Lottery Fund's People's pounds 50m Lottery Giveaway.

The Sustrans Connect2 venture is the only proposal with projects which will benefit the North-East.

It would deliver local travel improvements for 79 communities nationwide by building or opening up bridges and crossings over rivers, railways and roads, which will be linked to cycle and footpath networks.

If Sustrans comes out top in the public vote, pounds 3m will come to the North-East, serving to lever in up to another pounds 7m in funds from other sources.

Telephone voting lines opened yesterday and close on Monday at noon.

The Sustrans bid is up against schemes for a Black Country urban park and preserving Sherwood Forest in the Midlands, and development of the Eden Project in Cornwall.

And Newcastle United will be backing the Sustrans project at today's home match against Midlands team Birmingham City, when the telephone voting number to back the Connect2 venture will be publicised at half time.

One of the regional projects would be to restore the ferry between Blyth town centre and the north side of the river - where development is expected to concentrate jobs - saving a five-mile round-trip by road.

That could see the 30-year-old mothballed Tyne ferry, The Shieldsman, make a return to working life.

The ferry was replaced in May by the Spirit of the Tyne, with the Pride of the Tyne as back-up.

The Shieldsman is on the market, and a spokesman for operators Nexus said: "It is in perfect working order and we would rather not sell it for scrap. If it went to a good home in the North-East, that is something we would like to see."

The other regional schemes are to:

Re-open the disused Victorian Belmont railway viaduct on the outskirts of Durham City, for use by cyclists and walkers travelling between Belmont, Newton Hall and the city centre. …

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