The North East Party today made a plea for regional unity across local councils in order to access a £600 million fund promised by the government in improve local transport and rail infrastructure, but is being withheld by ministers because of disputes over regional devolution between councils North and South of the River Tyne.
Back in March, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the North East could benefit from a £4.2 billion transport funding grant, but only if it came together to form a single combined mayoral authority. As of present, the region is divided into the “North of Tyne Authority” (Newcastle/Northumberland/North Tyneside), The North East Combined Authority (Sunderland/South Tyneside/Durham/Gateshead) and the and Tees Valley Authority.
The North East Party however, who calls for regional wide devolution and a better deal for the area as a whole, has argued that such local disunity is hindering the broader development of the region and blocking the upgrading of its transport infrastructure by failing to produce a common position and ground over the issue. A party spokesman stated:
“Transport investment in the North East of England is not a zero-sum game, but a win-win form of cooperation which will enhance connectivity, jobs and fluidity throughout the entire region.”
“Whilst each council strives to stand up for its own interests, by refusing to consider the bigger picture, places such as Sunderland are deliberately choosing to opt-out of much needed funds for transport infrastructure whilst its own railway station is in a state of complete disarray”
“The North East Party calls for the region to stop competing against itself, and establish a common ground, interest and position based upon a shared history, heritage and identity. The region can only succeed in negotiating with the government when it comes together and acts with one voice, rather than succumbing to divide and rule games.”