Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Anger over Spending Is 'A Bit of a Misunderstanding' Says Transport Secretary

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Anger over Spending Is 'A Bit of a Misunderstanding' Says Transport Secretary

Article excerpt

ANGER in the North over under-investment in the region's rail and roads is a "bit of a misunderstanding", Transport Secretary Chris Grayling says.

Mr Grayling said that while the North did need to play "catch up" with some other parts of the country, Government transport spending in the region was now higher than in the South.

His words, which came on a visit to Tyneside, follow a sustained campaign by business and political leaders for increased transport investment in areas like the North East to help the region fulfill its economic potential.

Greater investment in infrastructure is one of the key pillars of the Power Up The North campaign, in which the Journal and our sister paper the Chronicle have joined a host of other papers around the North to push the Government for a better deal.

As that campaign gathers pace, Mr Grayling's words have been met with an angry response from North East MPs.

At the launch of a new innovation hub at the Port of Tyne, Mr Grayling was asked about under-investment in the North's transport infrastructure.

He said: "This is a bit of a misunderstanding. Actually at the moment, if you look at Government funding for transport in the North, it is higher per head of population than it is in the South. What distorts the figures around London is that London raises a whole lot of taxation money itself to pay for Crossrail, which people in the North aren't doing.

"My view is that London can raise taxes to invest in transport to a greater extent than the North and that means Government has a greater responsibility to support transport innovation in the North.

"If you look at what we're actually doing, at the moment we've just started work on the PS3bn Transpennine rail upgrade, we've just done the start of the process that will lead to the complete dualling of the A66.

"Last year we opened the last leg of motorway-grade road between London and Newcastle, we've announced extra funding for the Metro to buy new trains and I'm expecting this summer to confirm funding for the first stage of the reopening of the Blyth to Ashington line and I've said to Nexus that I'm very happy to give them that project to do. …

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