In February 2020, Bridget Phillipson MP asked Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris MP, in the Commons Chamber whether he would visit the Leamside line to discuss its proposed reopening – the Minister claimed he would do so. Bridget followed up this invitation with a written letter, the Minister’s response to which claimed he would be ‘happy to visit the Hon. Member’s constituency at a suitable opportunity to discuss the case for reopening the Leamside line’. Understandably, due to coronavirus the visit was delayed.
In November 2021, Bridget revisited the matter and once again asked Minister Heaton-Harris to visit the line to discuss the case for its proposed reopening. The Minister agreed, and had ‘asked [his] Officials to find a mutually convenient time to do so’. A month later, Chris Heaton-Harris was moved to another Department.
Bridget then wrote to the new Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, extending the invitation to Heaton-Harris’s replacement, Wendy Morton MP. On the 10th January 2022, Bridget received an answer completely sidestepping the invitation and refusing to commit to visiting the line.
Bridget Phillipson MP, Member of Parliament for Houghton and Sunderland South and Shadow Education Secretary said:
‘It’s really disappointing that Government ministers are once again backpedalling on promises they’ve made to people in the North East.
Reopening the Leamside Line is a project that commands wide support alongside a strong economic case – the very least Transport ministers can do is visit the line. To not do so would demonstrate a real disrespect for those across our region who wish to see the line reopened.
I urge the new Parliamentary Under Secretary of State to honour the promise made to my constituents by her Department and her Government.’