For the North from the Northern Echo last week
James Ramsbotham, chief executive, North East England Chamber of Commerce, N Echo column
Our Stronger North East campaign has the need for a strong and reliable transport infrastructure at its heart.
We cannot function effectively as a business community if we never know whether our plane, ship, train, lorry, bus or car is likely to arrive as its destination on time.
As a result, we place great emphasis on proposals to improve our transport systems.
One mechanism supporting our members’ ambitions is the Transport for the North’s recently released Strategic Transport Plan, due to be approved by their governing board this week. The plan outlines £70 billion of infrastructure investment through to 2050 to help to increase connectivity and economic growth in the North.
We have been involved in the consultation process for this ensuring the business voice of the North East is heard.
Our position is that we support the Strategic Transport Plan as it will help to increase connectivity and trade across the North, bringing people and businesses closer together and creating economic benefits for the North East in addition to the North as a whole.
The plan outlines investment in key flagship programmes such as Northern Powerhouse Rail as well as well as investment to improve the major road network across the North. This would mean an additional investment of £50 per person in the North per year through to 2050 in order to fund these projects.
After decades of underinvestment for the North East it is essential that there is increased investment in the North’s infrastructure network. The additional investment of £50 per person will help to create a £100billion increase in economic activity and 850,000 new jobs across the North.
Improving the North’s infrastructure will help to increase trade through better connectivity which will strengthen the region’s economy and help it to grow through a turbulent future with the impact of ongoing Brexit uncertainty.
With other key transport initiatives around Tees Valley including Tees Valley Airport and Middlesbrough and Darlington station improvements plans this is a key moment to improve the North East’s infrastructure.
The Strategic Transport Plan will be officially launched in two weeks’ time following approval by the board. We will then be campaigning to ensure the Government backs and funds these plans to achieve the ambition of increased connectivity and trade across the North and to truly deliver on the promise of a Northern Powerhouse.