If North East leaders want the Leamside rail line, linking Tursdale in County Durham via Washington to the Tyne & Wear Metro at Pelaw, to be re-opened – which they do – they should unite and do a devolution deal with the government.
Who says so? No longer only this website but now North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll as well.
Though Driscoll is critical of the government’s Integrated Rail Plan (IRP), published last week in some ways in which this website is not, such as inter-city connectivity from Newcastle, we agree that the reopening of the Leamside Line would make an important contribution to levelling up parts of County Durham.
And we agree that doing a devolution deal covering all seven councils in the North East would be the best way to achieve it, as well as other economic advantages.
Compare what this site wrote three days ago with the closing paragraphs of Driscoll’s column in The Journal today.
This website: ‘The North East should now have two transport priorities. One is the re-opening of the Leamside Line…it could…play an important part in levelling up the region by connecting people in County Durham with employment, education and leisure opportunities in Tyne & Wear. The region would be much better placed to receive government support and funding for [this priority] if it would only do a devolution deal covering all seven local authorities’.
Driscoll: ‘The IRP left a door open. Page 114 says: “The government considers that the case for re-opening the Leamside route would be best considered as part of any future city region settlement”. For the past two years I’ve been calling for our region and working to make it happen. It’s the only way to get transport devolved. And until we’re masters of our own destiny we’ll always be forgotten by a government that doesn’t know its Ashington from its Easington,