A decade after the debacle of the 2004 NE regional assembly referendum, the reality behind the issue now appears to be clearer. “Just 12% of people think Westminster does a good job for the North East while 88% want more locally-held control” reports the Newcastle Chronicle 31st March 2015.
“The vast majority of voters want more powers to be held in the region, our North East Manifesto survey has shown. Just 12% of you are happy with the status quo and think that Westminster knows what it is doing. Half of people want powers to be held by a combined authority – but you are divided on whether the region needs its own directly-elected mayor, like London has in Boris Johnson. And 38% of people said a completely independent regional government with powers over taxation and spending is needed. But, whatever structure which emerges in the coming years, one message is clear – the North East demands more control over its own destiny.”
Its NE Manifesto lists these transport priorities:
– For rail, the reinstatement of the Leamside Line along the Leeds-Newcastle east coast corridor, as well as investment in the Durham Coast line, improvements to the Tyne Valley line, and the re-opening of the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne line to passenger services.
– On the roads, investment on north-south and east-west links within and beyond the region; including improvements to the A1 to motorway standard, to the A19, and to the A69 and A690.
* The creation of Transport North East as an integrated public transport system for the North East, with improvements to Northern Rail services and devolved funding to extend the Tyne and Wear Metro.
* Having power to protect airports like Newcastle International Airport from competition over Air Passenger Duty.
* The spending power to market the North East in America, exploiting an air route established to New York from Newcastle, and a boost for Newcastle International Airport Business Park under the devolution deal.