Ruth Mitchell

Transport Minister visits North East

The Transport Minister Norman Baker MP has visited the region today to witness the first stage of the £385 million refurbishment of the Metro.

During his visit, Mr Baker was given the opportunity to view one of the newly refurbished trains, travel on board, and see some of the other benefits of the modernisation programme.

Mr Baker called the investment a “vote of confidence in the North East”, and expressed plans to continue investment in regional and national infrastructure.

He said: “We’re very pleased with the refurbishments which have been undertaken to the Nexus programme.

“There’s alot going on in transport, and will will continue to make significant investments in transport, both in road and rail, because we see that as one way of helping the economy, creating jobs and in transport terms to cut carbon.”

However, he refuted claims made in a December 2011 IPPR North report, which indicated the presence of massive spending disparities between the region. The report showed that infrastructure projects in the South East and London account for 84% of planned spending, in comparison to 6% in the North East. This equates to £2,731 for Londoners and £5 in the North East.

Commenting on the statistics, he continued: “That’s simply not accurate. The report fails to take account of the announcements which were made last month for the North East, so in actual fact the percentage spent in the North East is broadly similar to that which we saw under the last Labour government.

“What people can take comfort from is the fact that despite the difficult economic inheritance we’ve got, we haven’t cut back on infrastructure, and continue to prioritise transport.”

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