Published: 28th MARCH 2024

Transport hustings for North East Mayor candidates

Five candidates for the North East Mayor summarised the transport changes they would make at our Mayoral Hustings for businesses, organised with Womble Bond Dickinson.

The five candidates for North East Mayor who spoke at the Hustings were (left to right): Andrew Gray (Green), Kim McGuinness (Labour), Jamie Driscoll (Independent), Aidan King (Liberal Democrats), Guy Renner-Thompson (Conservative).

Andrew Gray (Green Party), Aidan King (Liberal Democrats), Guy Renner-Thompson (Conservative Party), Jamie Driscoll (Independent) and Kim McGuinness (Labour Party) each spoke for five minutes on their vision for transport in the region.

The event was held at Womble Bond Dickinson’s office in Newcastle on 27 March.

Kevin Bell, Partner in the transport and infrastructure team at Womble Bond Dickinson chaired the session and introduced the Hustings with Rosslyn Colderley, our director in the North.

Together they set the scene for the discussions on transport, active travel and wider devolution in the North East, including highlighting our new Tyneside Walking and Cycling Index.

There was a Question and Answer session, including questions sent in previously by audience members, as well as questions from the floor.

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It’s clear that the North East has been held back by vast inequalities and systematic under-investment in transport. “The region has been crying out for investment for years. Blockquote quotation marks
Kevin Bell, Partner in the transport and infrastructure team at Womble Bond Dickinson

Andrew Gray

Andrew Gray, North East mayoral candidate for the Green Party, said enabling walking and cycling as a natural and attractive mode of transport for more people was key.

He said he would aim to reduce the need to travel and invest in local communities:

"It’s really important that if we’re going to have a transport policy that works and reduces our carbon impact on the world we’re going to have to reduce traffic overall.

That will also deliver naturally some of those huge active travel benefits."

Kim McGuinness

Kim McGuinness, North East mayoral candidate for the Labour Party said transport was key to tackling inequality and accessing opportunity.

She said she would prioritise bringing the bus services back into public hands, launching a new ‘Angel Network’.  

"Transport isn’t just about getting from A to B. It's about fixing our transport infrastructure to build the infrastructure of opportunity in our region's economy so we can grow and we can design out exclusion."

Jamie Driscoll

Jamie Driscoll, Independent North East mayoral candidate, said he would make public transport free for everyone under 18, and invest in the bus network and active travel:

"We’ve got to get to a situation where we have mobility as a service.

“We should stop thinking about moving vehicles and start thinking about moving people. It’s about building a network that works.

“Active travel should be a part of that."

Aidan King, North East mayoral candidate for the Liberal Democrats said he would commit to building Europe’s largest windfarm to help fund major new sustainable transport projects:

"My pitch is all about the powers of the mayoralty to create economic development for the future.

“I want to build a lot of new houses.

“I want to build them on green field sites that are fully integrated into sustainable transport."

Guy Renner-Thompson

Guy Renner-Thompson North East mayoral candidate for the Conservative Party said his focus would be on building better roads.

He warned that cycle lanes and bus lanes can have a disruptive effect on cities and towns:

"My Number One drive is to bring jobs and investment into the region.

“When it comes down to transport, car transport is the number 1 objective.

“78% of our travel is done by car, especially in our vast rural areas."

Investment in transport is key to levelling up

Kevin Bell from Womble Bond Dickinson said: “Thanks to all of the candidates for joining us, setting out their vision for transport in the North East and for a lively discussion on what needs to be delivered.

“It’s clear that the North East has been held back by vast inequalities and systematic under-investment in transport.

“The region has been crying out for investment for years.

“Investment in transport is the key enabler in delivering on the levelling up and devolution agenda. Transport plays a vital role in connecting our towns and cities, boosting economic growth, delivering education and job opportunities, increasing social mobility, and hopefully eradicating child poverty.

“The five candidates highlighted their views on specific projects that will enhance transport connectivity, including introducing bus franchising, extending the Tyne and Wear Metro to Washington, reopening the Leamside Line railway, and improving active travel, as well as the huge potential of our ports.”

Walking and Cycling Index is ‘the voice’ of constituents

Rosslyn Colderley from Sustrans highlighted new figures from our new Tyneside Walking and Cycling Index, which demonstrate the huge potential for improving active travel and public transport in the North East.

The independent survey of 1,191 residents in the region found that almost half (49%) of residents want to walk or wheel more, 39% want to cycle more and 31% want to use more public transport.

Rosslyn said: “It was great to hear from all the candidates today and encouraging that active travel was high on their agendas.

“I would urge them all to listen to the voices of their constituents, who clearly want to see more investment in active travel.

“Our research in the Walking and Cycling Index shows that more than half (52%) of residents in the city region supported building more cycle lanes physically separated from traffic and pedestrians, while 68% say that more frequent road crossing with reduced wait times would help them to walk or wheel more.

“Walking, wheeling and cycling makes a tangible difference to the quality of peoples’ lives by preventing serious long term health conditions like heart disease, dementia and hip fractures, saving the NHS £19 million a year.

“Imagine the saving if everyone who wanted to walk, wheel or cycle felt able to choose active travel?”

Read more on the Walking and Cycling Index:


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