Budget response

George Osborne’s announcement today about upgrades to the A66 and A69 have been given a cautious welcome by North East MEP Jonathan Arnott.

“I welcome this move but the million dollar question is when this is likely to come to fruition,” said Mr Arnott, UKIP Euro-MP.

“The Chancellor spoke of making the Northern Powerhouse “a reality”. Really? And just when will the people in my constituency start to feel that reality?

“A study into improving the A66 between the A1 and the M6 in Cumbria and the A69 between Hexham and Carlisle commission by the Department of Transport last year is not even due to be completed till the end of this year. Even the traffic on congested sections moves faster than such bureaucracy.

“We in the North East are fed up with the lack of real commitment to the area. While these remote politicians give us the usual smoke and mirrors the unemployment rate in the region remains the highest in the land,” said Mr Arnott.

“I also find it ironic that the extra £700m pledged for flood defences is to come from a 0.5% increase on the tax on insurance premiums. That will affect householders and business owners whose premises were so badly affected by flooding and whose premiums will already be through the roof,” he added.

Mr Arnott also said that he was disappointed that nothing has been done to rectify the advantage that Scottish airports have over those in the North because of air passenger duty differences.

“Scottish airports can offer cheaper flights and consequently other airports, such as Newcastle, are struggling to compete as their hands are tied. I am disappointed that the Chancellor did not address this situation.”

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