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North East Chamber of Commerce respond to budget

“There have been several positive announcements made by the Chancellor. The elimination of national Insurance payments for Under 21s and the abolition of the annual tax return will make life much easier for our smaller business members and contribute to the positive employment figures released this morning. Support for our offshore sector and chemical industries are also very welcome.

“Nevertheless, while there have been promises made around business rate reform, annual investment allowances and northern transport, we are yet to see action. Actions speaking louder than words and these issues need to be addressed as a matter of urgency by whoever is in the Treasury after the election.”

– Ross Smith, Director of Policy, NECC

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Treasury responds to IPPR report

"Rebalancing the economy and creating a northern powerhouse of jobs, investment and prosperity is a key part of our long term economic plan.

"We have made great strides and already created Transport for the North to speak with one voice to government on the big decisions to benefit the entire region.

"It is crucial we work together to deliver a world-class transport network for the North that reduces journey times, increases capacity and connectivity and enables growth and that's why we will be setting out our strategy for transport in the North in the next few weeks."

– HM Treasury spokesperson

What would the 'Transport for North' involve?

A thinktank is calling for the Chancellor to use this month's budget to give £15 billion to the North East.

They want to create a 'Transport for North' network, imitating the existing Transport for London.

But what would the 'Transport for North' involve?

IPPR have set out a 10-year blueprint for what they think Transport for North (TfN) should do:

  • Appoint a Transport Commissioner for the North, who would be accountable to the public and be a figurehead for developing northern transport.
  • Move towards a contactless, cross-boundary ticketing system - using mobile phones and contactless payments for journeys across different modes of transport.
  • Manage rail franchises, rolling stock and stations in an attempt to reduce overcrowded services and platforms.

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Richard Branson: commuters should not be worried about rising rail fares

Sir Richard Branson says rail commuters in the region should not be concerned about rising prices on the East Coast mainline.

Speaking on a visit to Newcastle this lunchtime he told ITV Tyne Tees that concerns about lack of competition and increases in fares were unfounded.

Virgin Rail and Stagecoach took over the running of the East Coast Franchise this week. They already run services on the West Coast line. There have been concerns from the Competition and Marketing Authority about lack of competition in some areas driving prices up.

Pictures: Richard Branson visits Newcastle

Tycoon Sir Richard Branson is in Newcastle to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.

The owner of the Virgin business empire is at an event for young people at the Northern Stage theatre.

It comes just two days after a consortium involving Virgin took over train services on the East Coast mainline.

Sir Richard Branson in Newcastle Credit: ITV

It is three years since Virgin Money took over Northern Rock, the failed Newcastle-based bank.

Sir Richard with Brian Souter Credit: ITV

Sir Richard Branson amused the press when he pointing out that Stagecoach co-founder Brian Souter usually wears red trainers and that he had worn his to match.

Joking around on stage Credit: ITV
Virgin Start-Up event Credit: ITV
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