BRIDGET PHILLIPSON: Rail line could have brought new jobs and growth to our area

Last week Boris Johnson admitted he crashed the car when it came to sleaze, as it became clear just how much money Tory MPs have been raking in from outside jobs.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 12:00 am

He's also derailed our trains, with another set of broken promises on rail.

Headlines in the national papers focused on the cancellation of the fast Leeds-Manchester railway, and the eastern leg of HS2, the part of the long-promised high-speed link which would have helped give us more capacity on the East Coast Main Line.

But what was most disappointing in the announcements from the government was the fate of the Leamside Line. The mothballed line between Newcastle and Durham through Fencehouses, Penshaw, and Washington - should be a vital part of bringing new jobs and growth to our area.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Reopening it would enable faster journeys across our region and new rail links for so many of us, opening up opportunities for businesses to grow and thrive.

Like so many local people and together with my colleague Sharon Hodgson MP, I've campaigned for years to see that line reopened - asking questions in Parliament, lobbying the Minister to visit, and supporting the Restoring Your Railways fund bid.

Again and again it's clear that sadly that line is going nowhere under the Tories. Last week, I was bitterly disappointed that our Restoring Your Railways fund bid was again knocked back. This was a missed opportunity for local people and businesses alike. There is wide support and a strong economic case for re-opening.

The Tories have been in power eleven years now. It's no good local Conservatives pretending to be disappointed - it's their government which has yet again let local people down, let businesses down, and let the country down.

Sadly that's no surprise - we all saw the respect the Prime Minister has for businesses in the North East when he turned up in South Shields this week for the annual conference of business group the CBI.

He delivered a speech which was incoherent, rambling, and shambolic. It was embarrassing - but also deeply disrespectful to local business leaders who'd come to listen to the Prime Minister of our country.

The contrast with Labour leader Keir Starmer could not have been clearer. Keir showed that Labour is back in business – setting out how the next Labour government will work with businesses and unions to improve skills and drive growth in every corner of our country.

It's Labour – the party of work – which today is both the party of workers and the party of business.