A TRANSPORT wish list set to land on Nick Clegg’s desk will see the deputy prime minister asked to back road upgrades and daily flights from Newcastle to the United States.
Business chiefs today reveal the changes considered vital to help the North East economy.
Their investment dossier will be passed to former transport secretary Lord Adonis, currently carrying out a widescale review of the regional economy.
Lord Adonis will then hand over his findings to Mr Clegg in a document set to prioritise regional Government spending for more than a decade.
The wish list includes support for flights to America, further investment in the A19 near the Tyne Tunnel and electrification of the Trans-Pennine railway to Teesport as well as new shipping links to Scandinavia and the Baltic states.
However, the case for dualling the A1 is snubbed in the short-term, with businesses only calling for increased speed limits to 60mph for HGVs through Northumberland.
The investment call was put together by the North East Chamber of Commerce and the CBI, and is expected to win the backing of Lord Adonis.
Chamber chief executive James Ramsbotham said it was important the region had a joint lobbying position.
He said: “These projects must be delivered swiftly. They will become key lobbying platforms, and we will publish progress reports to ensure pledges are fulfilled.
“We recognise that many agencies have a crucial role to play in delivering these priorities, including the Department of Transport, local authorities and executive agencies. Both CBI and NECC are keen to support action where we are able.”
Last night A1 dualling campaigners said they were glad the road overall was a major focus of the report. Campaigner Anne-Marie Trevelyan has met with the Department for Transport official seconded to Lord Adonis’ review team to go over the reasons why the road is so frequently snubbed.
She said: “We will not get the road onto the short-term aims until we have a shovel ready business case ready to go, but the evidence base for this is not being worked on by the department.
“It has not done anything to help this and hasn’t looked at the case since 1992.
“So our ask to Lord Adonis is that his review calls for money to be made available to produce the business case for dualling the A1, or else otherwise we will never get prioritised.”
The report was also backed by Heidi Mottram, regional chair of CBI North East. The Northumbrian Water chief executive said the changes were needed to keep the regional economy growing.
And Michael Spriggs, managing director of UK Land Estates and member of the CBI North East regional council, said: “We naturally believe that this region is a fantastic place to do business and offers many advantages over alternative locations elsewhere in the UK. However, improvements to the transport infrastructure are essential if the North East is to continue to attract inward investment and to allow its indigenous businesses to grow and prosper.”
One of the most ambitious improvements is the need for tax changes to support daily flights out of Newcastle to America.
The report says: “A link to North America is the number one aviation priority for North East businesses.
“This can be made a reality with changes to policy on route development funding and air passenger duty.”
But to achieve Government-backing for this and other policies the region must hurry.
Ed Twiddy, chief executive of the local enterprise partnership which commissioned the review, told a Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors conference that several other groups were following the region’s lead.
The North East’s will be handed in first in the spring, a timetable it was vital to stick to.