RAIL: Study already in existence

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Friday, November 9, saw the inaugural meeting of the North of Tyne Combined Authority, comprising Newcastle City, North Tyneside and Northumberland councils.

It will be given £600million from the Government over the next 30 years. Part of its remit will be housing, skills and regeneration, as well as an elected mayor.

Peter Jackson, Leader of Northumberland County Council, stated that one of his priorities within the authority was to fund a feasibility study into the re-opening of the South East Northumberland Rail Link.

Coun Jackson must be applauded for his 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 a dramatic rise in tourism, inward investment and existing firms employing more people. 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 regeneration in south east Northumberland. This included the annulment of the contract to build the new County Hall in Ashington.

Is Coun Jackson aware that the previous Labour administration commissioned an in-depth feasibility study into the opening of the line?

This included the infrastructure, economic and social benefits, along with private investment.

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

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