July 31, 2008 9:09 PM

Newcastle East Lib Dem councillors and campaigners have called on NEXUS to give priority to improvements to Chillingham Road and Byker Metro stations.

The call comes after it was confirmed that the Government has approved a £300 million upgrade programme for the Metro network.

The funding allocation has been welcomed by the Lib Dems, but campaigners have called for action to be taken to improve Chillingham Road and Byker Metro stations as a priority, following previous calls to improve safety at these stations.

North Heaton Lib Dem Councillor Greg Stone, who is a member of the Opposition on the Tyne & Wear Passenger Transport Authority, said it was good news that Metro will get a much-needed cash injection.

However, he wants to see NEXUS bring forward plans for improvements to these stops.

"Clearly this investment is very welcome, though it remains a fraction of the investment delivered in London including billions of pounds spent on Crossrail and £800 million on new ticket halls at Kings Cross underground station," he said.

"It seems the Government have recognised that North East Labour seats are under threat and have finally got out their chequebook.

"It is great news that stations and rolling stock are to be upgraded over the next decade. However, residents in the East End of Newcastle want assurances that local stations will not have to wait years for improvements."

The Lib Dems are calling for action to reclad the 1970s era stations, which are looking increasingly tired and shabby, to install anti-graffiti measures, and to improve passenger safety following concerns over poor lighting and anti-social behaviour in on these stations.

Cllr Stone said: "I know that many people find it intimidating to use Byker and Chillingham Road stations at night.

"Although some stations on the network are to receive major upgrades, there has been no word on these particular sites as yet. We feel that with investment, more people will use these stations.

"Chillingham Road in particular could become a catalyst for regeneration of adjoining sites on the Fossway."

South Heaton Lib Dem campaigner Henry Gallagher added: "We would particularly like to see a partnership with the nearby Newcastle Retail Park to improve connectivity and access at Chillingham Road, as has worked successfully with Tesco at Kingston Park station."