A report by the employers’ organisation the CBI has found that 60% of the north east’s businesses feel the region’s infrastructure is in need of improvement.

The same report claims, however, that if the local infrastructure was boosted, it could benefit the north east’s economy by £5.5 billion a year. 

The CBI stresses that links need to be improved to the north east’s two airports. Their report found that most of the business people surveyed feel that political devolution to the north east could help improve the infrastructure problem. 

The respondents felt devolution could see the region benefit from better public transport. They also thought devolution could make improvements – such as upgrades to the A69 and A66 and better links to the region’s seaports – more likely to happen.

60% of North East Businesses Dissatisfied with North East's Infrastructure
60% of businesses were dissatisfied with rail and road links (photo from Stephen Veitch)

As well as calling for better infrastructure within the north east, the CBI report – entitled Shaping Regional Infrastructure – also calls for better links between different regions of the country. 

The report argues such links would enable firms to benefit from a broader labour market and better organised supply chains. 

The CBI report arrived at the £5.5 billion figure by looking at the part of the north east that had the highest rate of growth between 2004 and 2014. The report’s authors then estimated how an improved infrastructure could spread similar growth rates across the region.

Another factor the Shaping Regional Infrastructure report picked up on was the importance of technology, with 94% of north east companies believing technology will boost productivity. 

The CBI’s north east director, Sarah Glendinning, said, “With 60% of the north east’s firms dissatisfied with the state of our region’s roads, rails and ports, it’s vital the pace of taking action and delivering improvements is stepped up.”

“Infrastructure is a key driver of productivity. By making it easier for staff to get to work, and by better connecting companies to their customers, markets overseas and supply chains, we could do a great deal to lift England’s productivity.”

Last year, the CBI called for the government to ensure the A1 was made into a dual carriageway right up to the Scottish border. Though the government at first appeared to have agreed to this, the scheme is now in some doubt.

Another recent report showed that many north-east roads are experiencing serious problems with potholes and other maintenance issues. This is mainly due to local councils lacking money for repairs as a result of central government austerity measures.

On a brighter note, however, plans are being made to introduce a new fleet of trains on the Tyne and Wear Metro.  

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