Mead on the menu but A1 dualling on the mind
The A1 has been highlighted by Lindisfarne Mead as the major barrier restricting economic growth in Northumberland.
The company is setting its sights further afield with hopes of expanding into Asia but the poor infrastructure closer to home was a key message for Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry when he visited the winery on Tuesday.
Chris Walwyn-James, a director of Lindisfarne Mead, said: “The Northern Powerhouse is great but we need a good infrastructure, starting with a decent road.
“There is an irony that the term A1 means something special and yet we have a road which is little better than a country road.
“Sixty miles away we have Edinburgh, one of the most vibrant cities in Europe, with the regional centre of Newcastle to the south and yet the journey between them is torturous.
“We are looking to expand production but we have got to be in a position where we are able to achieve it. It’s no good getting orders from all over the world if we can’t dispatch them quickly enough.”
The company already exports to Belgium, Holland and the USA but is keen to open up the potential of China and Japan.
“Historically we exported to Hong Kong and we’re keen to get back into the Asian market,” said Mr Walwyn-James. “We are laying the groundwork and making exploratory contacts at the moment with a view to making an energetic export push in the next 12 months.”
The minister visited Holy Island as part of a three day tour of the north of England.
Mr Berry said: “The Northern Powerhouse is as much for here as it is for Newcastle and further afield. In a post-Brexit world we want to encourage companies who produce high quality, fantastic products such as Lindisfarne Mead to take it to a global market.”
However, he refused to be drawn on when the A1 will be fully dualled between Morpeth and Berwick.
“I understand the frustrations,” he said. “The Government is working on the proposals to dual the A1 but these projects are extremely complicated.
“We remain committed to improving transport infrastructure across the Northern Powerhouse and that’s why we are doing things like the Borderlands Growth Deal which on a sectoral basis will create a growing economy.
“The North East is the only net export region in England and there are challenges with Brexit but it’s a huge opportunity and I am confident that when we secure a deal the econonomy here will continue to do well.”