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Nick Forbes: We will make Newcastle better connected

THE leader of Newcastle Council yesterday set out how his £400m City Deal will transform conditions for the region's business community.

Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes

THE leader of Newcastle Council yesterday set out how his £400m City Deal will transform conditions for the region's business community.

Nick Forbes told how he plans to use Government-backed powers to improve Newcastle’s economic environment and create thousands of jobs.

He told The Journal that he still wants to see transport issues tackled, and was actively lobbying for a transatlantic flight from Newcastle and the widening of the A1 Western Bypass.

And he said that it was important that businesses got the message about the “scale of the ambition we have in the city” – prompting yesterday’s high-profile meeting with business leaders.

“I wanted to do that in a very public way and to assure people that despite the difficult times that much of the public sector is facing, Newcastle is very much open for business,” he said.

“We’re investing a lot of money in infrastructure over the next three years, in particular £16m to ensure that businesses and residents can benefit from ultra-fast broadband.

“We will upgrade Newcastle Central Station to create a world-class gateway to the region and relieve congestion on the Western Bypass by widening it between the Angel of the North and Lobley Hill. We’re also working with the airport to try to bring about new trading links.

“We’re campaigning for a transatlantic flight that will help sustain and improve important business relations between the North East and America.

“The airport is the biggest economic driver that we have. In the last four years, since the Emirates flight to Dubai was introduced, trade to the region has increased by £150m a year.

“We think a transatlantic route would generate similar trading opportunities.”

Congestion and carbon emissions across Tyne and Wear will be addressed through a £10m investment from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund as part of the council’s public transport and cycling infrastructure.

A further £5m will be invested to improve the punctuality of key bus services, while the council continues to lobby for high-speed rail services across the North and in Scotland.

The council will also ensure there is ample incubation space for small businesses, to enable them to prosper in the city, and a new skills and apprenticeship hub next year, providing greater opportunities for businesses to influence learning outcomes, he said.

Businesses and partner organisations of the council, such as Science City, NewcastleGateshead Initiative and the city’s universities, heard Forbes give his speech on the planned economic stimulus at the Civic Centre yesterday.

Delegates were told that despite the council’s challenging budget, it is determined to attract and grow new businesses, demonstrating that Newcastle is a prime city to invest in.

Attendees also found out more about the four Accelerated Development Zone sites in Newcastle and Gateshead; Science Central, Stephenson Quarter and the Central Station, East Pilgrim Street and Gateshead Quays; and Baltic Business Quarter. All of the growth in business rate income from these sites will be retained locally, rather than held by the Treasury.

This will allow the council to support £90m of additional investment, creating 2,000 jobs in the construction and development phase, and generating 13,000 permanent jobs by 2030.

Forbes added: “A key responsibility for the council is to provide the right conditions for business to flourish. Between 1,500 and 2,000 families a year have been moving away from Newcastle, so it is vital that people see the city as somewhere to lay down their roots, have a quality of life and pursue a successful career.”

 

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