Investing in North Shields and Wallsend.

On Thursday evening I was at the bimonthly meeting of the full council to debate a range of important issues.

You can see the video here and get the documents here.

As I always try to do, I took the opportunity to argue for greater resources being sought to support the economic prosperity of our riverside communities. On this occasion I was supporting a motion proposed by Deputy Mayor Carl Johnson. We are both frustrated that despite the Government’s rhetoric of “Levelling Up” the towns of North Shields and Wallsend are not getting anything like the support they need. We absolutely need to see the new Government playing fair by allocating Levelling Up funds to North Tyneside. Here’s my speech in full:

“As prominent and historic riverside towns, North Shields and Wallsend have witnessed the tides of fortune coming in and going out many, many times. The great ingenuity and rich resources of our borough have made a huge contribution to Britain’s prosperity over many generations.

The people of North Tyneside rightly take pride in that heritage, and they want to continue to make their important contribution to the nation’s economic growth. In order to do that they need to be starting on equal terms to the rest of the country, rather than continually working from a position of disadvantage.

The structural imbalances that have taken root in Britain’s economy are well-documented. So-much so that the now-deposed ex-prime minister Boris Johnson, felt his party needed to finally confront the issue. Being so fond of a catch phrase he coined one to describe a proposed remedy: Levelling Up.

Sadly, perhaps predictably, his rhetoric didn’t match reality. Time and again we sought to access Levelling-Up funding, for local schemes that would have made a real difference to the lives of our residents. On what basis were our bids refused? According to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee report in May this year “The principles for awarding funding were only finalised by Ministers after they knew who, from the 170 shortlisted bidders, would win and who would not as a result of those principles.” Let that sink in.

Receiving bids from local authorities including North Tyneside, taking a look at them, and then devising a scoring system that will determine the winners and losers.

It’s breath-taking isn’t it!

In light of this, and given that we have a new Prime Minister, who we can only hope oversees a more transparent and even-handed regime of ministerial decision-making, we need to make it plain to Westminster that investing in the people and prosperity of our riverside towns is a priority that should be taken seriously.

I hope all members in the chamber will support this motion.”

The motion itself is presented below:

The south-east of England, the most affluent region in Britain outside London, last year received almost twice as much money as the north-east from the government’s levelling up fund aimed at boosting deprived areas.
Various Conservative levelling up funds have refused to back North Tyneside including the levelling up fund and towns fund, which instead of being available to North Tyneside was made available to often more affluent and often Conservative voting areas.
Child poverty continues to rise in the North East and 11 in 30 children in a school class are now facing child poverty.
We call on the Mayor to:
• Write to the Prime Minister urging action on child poverty in the North East and to set out an action plan on how the Conservative government will tackle child poverty.
• Urge the Prime Minister to fund both of our £20 million levelling up bids for North Shields and Wallsend.

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