The Government has hailed the start of its job-creating infrastructure programme – even as Treasury officials struggle to spot the North East.
Cabinet officials yesterday welcomed news that some £36bn worth of major spending this year is set to create 150,000 jobs.
Official documents on the Treasury website said that more than 40 sites across the North East would benefit from decisions previously announced by the coalition. But on closer inspection it emerged around half of them were actually in Yorkshire.
Highways Agency accounting methods were blamed for the mistake, with the Government insisting the North East will benefit from projects this year.
Spending schemes due to start this financial year including the A1 Lobley Hill widening scheme, Sunderland Strategic Junctions Improvement Scheme, Ovingham Bridge refurbishment and the Morpeth Surface Water and Port Clarence and Greatham South flood alleviation schemes.
Twelve projects are expected to complete in 2014-15 including the £8.6m regeneration of Newcastle Central Station; Four Lane Ends and A188 Junction Improvements; A167 Chester-le-Street, Park Road to Junction 63 Improvements and the A19/A174 Parkway Junction Improvements, Middlesbrough.
Newcastle North MP Catherine Mckinnell said the Government was trying to pass off old announcements as new investment.
She said: “Yet again, we have another reheated re-announcement of infrastructure projects by this Government – when what we actually need is delivery on the ground. Whilst multiple infrastructure plans have been published, infrastructure output in the economy is actually down by more than 10%.
“More worrying for the North East is David Cameron and George Osborne’s total ignorance of our region – with projects due for completion in North Yorkshire, Leeds, Castleford, Pontefract, and as far afield as Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield, being listed by the Treasury today as being in the North East.
“By my reckoning, of the 41 projects the Treasury believes are due to start in the North East in 2014/15, only 20 are actually located in our region. Little wonder the North East is being totally failed by this Government, when the Chancellor can’t even find us on the map.”