‘Government must support connectivity’

James Ramsbotham, left, and John McCabe, right, of the North East England Chamber of Commerce.
James Ramsbotham, left, and John McCabe, right, of the North East England Chamber of Commerce.

The region’s business lobbying group has stepped into the row over the divide between funds for transport in the north and south.

The North East England Chamber of Commerce has invited Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to visit and see the impact of the huge transport funding imbalance between the North East and London.

The letter, signed by Chamber president John McCabe and chief executive James Ramsbotham, paints a stark picture of how this disparity has a severe and limiting effect on the North’s economy.

Mr Ramsbotham said: “We want the Minister to see the conditions businesses experience every day on our regional network and witness the difference targeted, consistent investment could make to our regional economy. The cancelled rail electrification programme would have provided the missing pieces on a stretch of fully electrified railway from Newcastle to Liverpool through Durham, Darlington, York, Leeds and Manchester.

“Reversal of such high-profile planned infrastructure upgrades in the North of England couples the long-term impact on the region’s economic potential with the short-term blow to business confidence and efforts to rebalance the UK’s economy.

“North-East England, in particular, has made great progress in recent years with employment rising and unemployment falling, but our members continue to point to the need to improve transport connectivity to enable them to realise their potential.”