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Sunderland could get part of £840million Government cash for transport improvements

Traffic on Sunderland's new Northern Spire bridge.
Traffic on Sunderland's new Northern Spire bridge.

Sunderland is among 10 areas in the country which is could benefit from a slice of £840million Government cash to improve transport links.

The chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission Sir John Armitt said today that devolved funding for cities was a key recommendation from the UK’s first-ever National Infrastructure Assessment, and would enable cities to plan their transport investment for the longer term.

He said the move would help unlock employment opportunities and delivers much-needed homes.

Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that 10 city regions would be able to bid for a share of the £840million in funding, and would also receive £50,000 each to develop business cases for investment in their areas.

The 10 city regions are: Derby & Nottingham, Leicester City, the North East, Norwich, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, Sheffield, Stoke-on-Trent and West Yorkshire.

Th Government said this comes on top of the £840million already allocated to cities with Mayoral Combined Authorities.

The National Infrastructure Assessment recommended that cities should be given long-term infrastructure budgets and the opportunity to develop bigger projects where required, to support their plans to boost job opportunities and deliver homes.

To deliver this local leaders in cities need an extra £43billion of investment by 2040 – and the Commission’s work showed that this was clearly affordable within the fiscal remit provided by Government.

Sir John has written to councils in more than 50 cities offering support from the National Infrastructure Commission as local leaders look to develop these plans.

He said: “I’m pleased to see Sunderland benefiting from this funding boost, to help tackle congestion and in turn support economic growth for their communities.

“The Transforming Cities Fund has been a great first step, and I would now urge ministers to go further and devolve even greater powers and funding to local leaders.

"That will enable them to devise longer term plans for transport, but also to boost employment opportunities and deliver much needed homes.”

Councillor Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council and transport lead for the North East Combined Authority, which represents seven North East councils including Sunderland, said: “We face many challenges as we seek to grow our economy through better, more sustainable transport.

“We have ambitious plans based around speeding up journey times into our city and town centres, expanding the reach of Metro and local rail, encouraging more people to walk or cycle on shorter journeys and creating easier, smarter ways to pay for travel.

"North East England has made a strong argument for investment that will begin to redress years of funding gap between our region and the London area.”