What the Labour Government and mayor must deliver for the North East

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer with Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness (3rd left) during a visit to the Beacon of Light charity  on February 14.
-Credit: (Image: PA)

Labour has been given a resounding mandate from the North East after winning May’s mayoral vote and taking all of the area’s seats in the General Election.

Now ChronicleLive and The Journal are calling on North East mayor Kim McGuinness and Sir Keir Starmer’s new Government to match the faith put in them by the region’s voters by taking action to help the North East to fulfill its undoubted potential and offer better lives to people in every community.

This week we will be examining some of the key challenges facing the region, and have called on the new Government to set out how it will act both locally and nationally to make a real difference. We are calling on the new Labour Government to:

Reduce child poverty

Recent figures showed that more than 118,000 children in the North East are growing up poor, with that experience affecting their education, life chances and health. Reducing child poverty must be a key priority for the new Government, but Labour’s refusal to reduce the two-child benefit limit has angered anti-poverty campaigners.

Revive the Levelling Up agenda

The Conservatives’ project for reducing regional inequalities has delivered little but its aims were correct. Even if it abandons the ‘levelling up’ slogan, Labour must use the next five years to boost the region’s economy, and with it health and living standards.

Improve transport infrastructure

For decades, the North East and other regions have lost out to London and the South East when the Government funded major transport schemes. Projects like the restoration of the Leamside rail line and the dualling of the A1 in Northumberland must be prioritised to help boost growth in the region.

Restore hollowed-out local services

The Conservatives’ austerity programme slashed funding to local councils and hit services that were lifelines to many people in the North East. Moving towards better funding for local authorities must be part of Labour’s programme for Government.

Journal editor Graeme Whitfield said: “Labour arguably lost the 2019 election in the North East, seeing seats it had taken for granted for too long switching to the Conservatives. Its recovery has also been seen in this region, and last week’s results saw it win in places like Hexham and North Northumberland which have never elected Labour MPs.

“But that vote cannot be taken for granted. Taken alongside the party’s victory in May’s mayoral election, the party now has no excuses for not delivering for the North East.

“At the start of this year, we said that 2024 could be the Year of the North East, with two elections offering people the chance to forge a new future for our region. Now that people have opted decisively for Labour, we have laid out four areas in which the party must improve the lives of people in this region, and we will hold it to account on these areas over the next five years.”