IMPROVING the region's transport links is the number one priority for members of the Institute of Directors who took part in new North-East research.

More than 400 IoD members were surveyed on a range of business issues. The study revealed that the top four issues were: better transport links and connectivity; cutting red tape, more financial support for start-ups and locally owned small firms, and tackling skills shortages.

IoD members also commented on the prospect of a fast rail link to Newcastle with 59.2 per cent of respondents supporting the idea only if it did not reduce the number of trains which stop in Durham and Darlington.

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Graham Robb, the North-East chairman of the Institute of directors, said: “Our members are involved in the decision-making process in hundreds of organisations across the North East. They clearly think that the North-East’s geography gives rise to a need for enhanced transport links. Connectivity within the region is important but joining the region to other parts of the UK, particularly the North West, requires more urgency from policy makers.

“If the IoD opposition on HS2 was heard, then extra resources would be available. Our roads need to be upgraded to motorways, our cross-country links need to be faster by road and rail and the cost of standard rail fares to London is too high. That said, IoD members were supportive of other key Government policies, notably its cornerstone deficit reduction strategy.”