THE new MP for Darlington met Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers last night to push the case for Government funding for the final phase of the town’s outer ring road.

Fresh from making his maiden speech, Peter Gibson met Ms Villiers in the town’s Whinfield Road to highlight problems of congestion and harmful emissions in the residential area and to make the economic case for a bypass from Great Burdon to the A1(M).

Speaking after the meeting, Ms Villiers said: “The Prime Minister is strongly focused on improving the infrastructure in the north of England.

“He recognises that there is very much a feeling the North-East, for example, that they haven’t had their fair share of the road improvements.

“So this is something the Government will have to consider very seriously, not least because of Peter’s campaign.”

Mr Gibson, who was accompanied by Darlington borough councillors Andy Keir and Jamie Bartch, said: “This is about highlighting the problems of congestion and the emissions in north Darlington, along North Road and Whinfield Road, caused by those two roads being used as access in and out from the A1(M) to the rest of Tees Valley.

The Northern Echo:

“Particularly with Amazon coming, it is absolutely essential that we improve those transport links.

“A direct southbound link on to the A66 if you’re travelling south is essential for our economy locally, as traffic from north of Darlington, Newton Aycliffe and further north travel south in order to come to Tees Port and other industries and our airport and the distribution hub that is going to be built there."

Mr Gibson said a business was plan being submitted to Government by the Tees Valley Combined Authority for the link road.

He added: “As we approached the budget and the Government is looking at infrastructure investment I am pushing for that link road to be in that plan.

“It is essential that we get it in it is essential that we complete our infrastructure it is essential for reducing emissions in Darlington and to open up the Tees Valley economy and it’s also essential for Amazon."

Ms Villiers said: “I know Peter is running a very energetic campaign on this. Improving air quality is hugely important, whether it’s locally here or across the country.

“We have a a big programme to reduce harmful emissions from transport. There is no doubt that air quality is the biggest environmental threat to public health.

The Northern Echo:

"This is visit has been very helpful to me in understanding the localised problem here and the case that Peter is making for connecting up that last section of the link road to get the traffic flowing more smoothly and deal with the congestion.”

She added: “I will be discussing this with my colleague (Transport Secretary) Grant Shapps. I know he is aware of the business case that has been prepared.

“It is always important in assessing which infrastructure improvements we can go ahead – to look at issues like air quality, but the economic case is really important as well."