Since I was first-elected in 2010 I have campaigned for our community to have the modern, well-connected transport infrastructure we deserve.
It’s not right that our area has had no access to rail services for decades – something that would be addressed by reopening the Leamside Line in full, with a station at Fencehouses.
However, the Government is currently considering a ‘Leamside South’ option. This would not have any capacity for local passenger trains on the south end of the line, meaning there would be no station at Fencehouses, and that our constituency would still have no access to rail services.
There are also questions about the environmental impact of a new line rather than the mothballed Leamside Line, which has been protected since its closure in 1991.
As Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, I know our public finances are under huge strain right now. It’s vital we make public spending as effective and efficient as possible, to maximise both short and long-term benefits.
I’m worried that proceeding with Leamside South would be a short-sighted move, that simply won’t bring the same long-term benefits for local jobs, livelihoods, and our environment as reopening the Leamside Line in full.
That’s why I’ve written to the Rail Minister, asking him to explain his thinking around the short and long term impact of these two options, and setting out how ‘Leamside South’ risks limiting our potential in the years to come.
As we look beyond this pandemic, it’s vital that every part of our country has access to opportunities that will help us recover and rebuild. That must include our community and I can assure my constituents that I won’t stop fighting for you.