Council’s delight over transport boost for Teesside area

Left-right: Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, Leader of Hartlepool Council, with Councillor Kevin Cranney, Deputy Leader and Chair of the Councils Regeneration Services Committee

Left-right: Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, Leader of Hartlepool Council, with Councillor Kevin Cranney, Deputy Leader and Chair of the Councils Regeneration Services Committee

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A councillor has welcomed government backing for a proposal to boost transport links.

The Government announced this week that transport on Teesside is set for a boost as part of a £170m national programme.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling revealed that a proposal by the Tees Valley Combined Authority to develop a detailed business case for a new Tees Crossing has been endorsed by the Government.

The commitment comes after additional funding for the improved east-west road connectivity from the A1(M) to the international gateway at Teesport announced in the Autumn Statement.

Councillor Kevin Cranney, chair of Hartlepool Borough Council’s Regeneration Services Committee and a member of the Combined Authority’s Transport Committee, said that the recent major Government transport announcements have demonstrated the benefits and investment that will derive from the combined authority.

He said: “Last week an additional crossing over the River Tees moved a step closer after the Government agreed to fund a detailed business case for the scheme, which will be developed by the Combined Authority.

“We also had the announcement that the Government is to support the Combined Authority’s proposals for improvements to the east/west routes between the A1 and Teesport.

“These major highway infrastructure schemes are vital to unlock Tees Valley’s potential to improve access to and from the Tees Valley and will help enormously to attract investment, jobs and visitors to the area in the future.”

It comes as Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, the leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, spoke out in support of the combined authority devolution orders – which all five Tees Valley councils have now agreed to – paving the way for a mayoral combined authority to be set up in May 2017.

Coun Akers-Belcher, who is also lead member for education & skills at Tees Valley Combined Authority, said: “The combined authority is not a re-creation of Cleveland County Council; Hartlepool and the other four Tees Valley councils will continue to exist in their own right, delivering the vast majority of local services.

“The basic principles are that the Tees Valley Mayor should have the support of a majority of council leaders for their proposals; and for critical issues such as changes to the constitution and key investment plans, there should be agreement by all five councils.

“There will also be a robust system in place with checks and balances to ensure that the mayor can be held to account.”