In a meeting with Newcastle City Council yesterday (Wednesday), Chi expressed her deep, deep concerns at the proposals for changes to the Blue House roundabout which the Council has released in early pre-consultation. She is calling a town hall meeting in her constituency to discuss other solutions, including changing the way we travel to reduce congestion.
The Council’s proposed expansion of the roundabout on the Great North Road would require land from Dukes Moor and the Little Moor, together with the removal of trees. Any Town Moor land lost must be replaced elsewhere and the Council has committed to replacing all trees.
Chi recognises the ambition of the Council to ensure the city has the infrastructure necessary to meet increased demands from growth in jobs and housing over the next 20 years and to improve air quality. Newcastle City Centre has the greatest concentration of jobs in the North East, and will need reliable transport links to new housing developments in North Tyneside and Northumberland. Chi is pleased that the Council won funding for the project, as part of the broader Re-newcastle scheme, which means Newcastle’s council tax payers will not be footing the bill.
But Ms Onwurah is clear that the current proposals are deeply concerning. Chi said:
“I grew up in Newcastle, I love the Town Moor, it is massively important to me, my constituents and all Newcastle residents. Blue House roundabout needs investment to address the level of accidents and improve air quality but the proposals to meet increased demand do not reflect the Newcastle I want to see in twenty year’s time. We need to change how we behave to reduce demand. The Newcastle of the future shouldn’t need a mega-roundabout.”
The first phase of pre-consultation is now open for comments until 21st August.
Chi asked the Council to extend the consultation period to enable a wide ranging and imaginative discussion on what people can do to reduce cars on the road in that area. Chi said:
“I hope to see people pledging to change the way they travel in our city – I’m thinking about what I can do myself to reduce car journeys to and from Gosforth, like cycling more. Around 20% of cars on the road every morning are doing the school run, are there ways we can reduce that? There are great bus links to Gosforth, what can we do to get more people using them? This is a great opportunity to have a creative conversation about what kind of city we want to live in and what we need to do to achieve it.