It’s great news that the North East will benefit from the £220 million pinch point fund, with upgrades to the Hexham and Corbridge junctions on the A69. This will mean every roundabout on the many miles of the A69 from Hexham to Newcastle will be grade separated, allowing motorists a free-flowing journey.
The North East will also benefit from the commitment to develop improvements identified by the Northern Trans-Pennine Routes Strategic Study by dualling the A66 from Scotch Corner to Penrith.
The Government is also allocating over £3.9 million to the North East to fix around 74,000 potholes in 2017/18 or stop them forming in the first place. I continue to fight for safety improvements and dualling of the A69, along with my Carlisle colleague John Stevenson
However, from the £175 million being made available for road safety, the Government will be inviting proposals from local highway authorities to upgrade some of the most dangerous local roads, where the risk of fatal and serious collisions is highest. I will be pitching for is with the local authority.
Philip Hammond, in his Autumn Statement, said: “For those who claim that the recovery is just a south-east phenomenon, I have some news: over the past year employment grew fastest in the north-east”.
North East unemployment has indeed fallen and now stands at 79,000 or 6.1%. This is a decrease of 20,000 over the previous quarter (July to September 2016), and a decrease in 30,000 over the last year.
Paul Carbert, of the North East England Chamber of Commerce, stated: “These figures give us positive news on the labour market in the North East. They show that participation in the labour market and the number of people in employment has increased in the past year, and unemployment has fallen by 30,000; the gap between the North East unemployment rate and the national average is at its lowest since 2010”.
Indeed, figures for October 2016 show that there are now 52% less claimants – that is, someone on Job Seekers Allowance, Universal Credit, or not in work – in the Hexham constituency than there were in October 2010. This is a very substantial decrease. It proves that we are putting people back into work, contributing to a society that works for everyone.
Finally, there will be an enhannced nationwide fund for new fibre infrastructure to homes and businesses. This is promising news, for a rural area of the country which has struggled to get high-speed broadband. I continue to fight for this too, having recently held productive private meetings with BT and EE in Westminster.