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£10 million to improve Newcastle's cycleways

It's hoped the money will make cycling safer in Newcastle Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Newcastle is to get ten million pounds to improve cycle routes in the city.

The money, announced by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, will expand and improve cycle and pedestrian networks to encourage people to cycle to work.

It follows an announcement by the Deputy Prime Minister at a cycling summit last November to extend £115 million of funding for eight cycling cities across the country.

In January this year Newcastle successfully bid for a share of the money.

"We are in the midst of a cycling revolution in the UK but we need to make sure we're in the right gear to see it through. That's why I'm so pleased to announce this investment for Newcastle to make it easier for people to get around on two wheels.

"With the legacy of the 2012 Olympics and the Tour de France in Yorkshire last year still fresh in our minds, this money can help Britain become a cycling nation to rival the likes of Denmark and the Netherlands.

"Research shows us that boosting cycling could save billions of pounds otherwise spent on the NHS, reduce pollution and congestion, and create a happier and safer population."

– Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg
Newcastle will receive £10 million Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Research commissioned by British Cycling, found if the UK became a cycling nation, like the Netherlands or Denmark, it could:

  • save the NHS £17 billion within 20 years
  • reduce road deaths by 30%
  • increase mobility of the nation's poorest families by 25%
  • increase retail sales by a quarter

"Cycling is great for your health and good for the environment, and this government is doing all it can to help more people get out on their bikes.

"We have doubled the amount of money available for cycling and taken steps to make sure that future governments plan properly for cycling.

"This investment shows our continued commitment to making cycling even easier and safer, and our ambition to help make these cities better for cycles."

– Robert Goodwill MP, Cycling Minister

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East Coast: 'Best deal for passengers"

The East Coast rail line becomes privately run from today after more than five years in the public sector.

The route which links London with Edinburgh has been operated by the Department for Transport since 2009. But it has now been jointly taken over by Virgin and Stagecoach.

Protests were held yesterday by the RMT union, which has described the handover as an "act of gross national betrayal of the British people".

A Department for Transport spokesman said they were confident that the new East Coast franchise gave the best deal for passengers - providing more seats, more services, new trains and over £140 million of investment along the route.

The skills and experience that the private sector provides drives forward innovation and investment, and has helped to transform our rail network into a real success story.

– – DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT SPOKESMAN

Shadow Transport Secretary Michael Dugher said the ending of the state-run East Coast company was "a hammer blow for passengers, taxpayers and employees alike".

David Cameron's ideological sell-off has ended a public sector service which has delivered over £1 billion to the Treasury, kept fares down, had record passenger satisfaction and engaged the workforce with unparalleled success. It is clear that when it comes to transport, people have a straight choice - the status quo or Labour's better plan. Labour will start the process of legislating in the first 100 days of a new parliament to allow a public sector operator to be able to take on lines and challenge the private sector on a genuinely level playing field.

– – SHADOW TRANSPORT SECRETARY MICHAEL DUGHER

East Coast trains back in private hands

Trains between London, the North East and Scotland return to private hands Credit: Martin Keene/PA

Trains on the East Coast Main Line are back in private control today, as services are taken over by a consortium involving Virgin Trains and Stagecoach.

The line, which links the North East with London and Edinburgh, was brought into public hands in November 2009. It has since been run by a company under the control of the Government.

From this morning, trains will operate under the name Virgin Trains East Coast. Services carrying the new livery will be unveiled tomorrow, Monday 2nd March.

The decision to re-privatise East Coast has been criticised by the rail union, the RMT, and some North East Labour MPs, who said the arrangement had been working well for passengers and taxpayers.

The eight year deal includes a promise of new trains, more services and extra seats.

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Thousands attend counter protest rally

Around 500 people attend the Pegida rally Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

It appears many more people have attended a counter protest organised against a rally being held by Pegida.

The group, which started in Germany, says it's worried about the rise in the number of people who adhere to a strict interpretation of Islam. It's holding its first rally in Britain in Newcastle.

Around 400-500 people are attending, including members of the North East English Defence League.

Up to 2000 people were expected for the counter protest Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Yards away a counter protest is taking place, organised by Newcastle Unites, which says Pegida is a far right organisation that has no business demonstrating in the North East.

The counter protest appears to have attracted thousands of people.

Tensions flared briefly in the Pegida rally but, what looked to be an attempt to break through police lines, was quickly contained.

Police now trying to disperse the Pegida demonstration. The counter protest remains in full swing.

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