Labour and Conservatives launch their visions for the North East

Labour is pledging 80,000 ‘new well-paid green jobs’ in its regional manifesto for the North East, which is being launched today.

By Ben O'Connell
Friday, 29th November 2019, 2:45 pm
Updated Friday, 29th November 2019, 4:39 pm
Picture from PA.
Picture from PA.

The manifesto will be launched by Shadow Employment Rights Secretary Laura Pidcock alongside further details of Labour’s £250billion Green Transformation Fund – an ‘investment blitz’ that the party claims will kickstart a Green Industrial Revolution in the North East and make Britain a global leader in renewable and low-carbon technology.

Pledges in the manifesto include:

A £13billion new Green Transformation Fund including Crossrail for the North, expanding two ports on the Tyne and Tees rivers, a steel recycling plant in Redcar and manufacturing facilities to support the Dogger Bank windfarms;

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To connect 1.2million households and businesses to full-fibre broadband;

7,000 new council and social homes a year by the end of the parliament;

80,000 new well-paid green jobs;

An immediate pay rise for 330,000 workers aged 16 and over.

Ahead of the launch at an industrial site in Middlesbrough, Laura Pidcock, who is also Labour’s parliamentary candidate for North West Durham, said: “In our region, devastating Tory cuts have held us back for nearly a decade. Since 2010, the North East has grown 70% slower than London, and weekly wages are now more than £200 less than in the capital.

“For family and friends of mine, those Conservative cuts have meant the anxiety and sometimes physical pain of waiting weeks and weeks for surgery. They have meant funding basics like books for their kids’ primary school themselves. They have meant seeing the number of homeless people sleeping in the cold rise every Christmas for nearly 10 years.

”We’ve had enough. This must end now. Our region, and the country, need real change.

“What would real change mean? For a start, 80,000 good green jobs, like construction jobs insulating our homes. Seven thousand council and social homes to solve the housing crisis. Expanding the Tyne and Tees ports. And building both a steel recycling plant in Redcar and manufacturing facilities to support the Dogger Bank windfarms, so we can turbo charge the North East’s economy.

“That is what it looks like when government actually cares about the North East, when it is ambitious for our region and will invest in it. That’s what it looks like to have a North East for the many, not the few.”

But Labour is not the only one to have set out its promises for the region, with the Conservatives making their own pledges earlier in the campaign.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a package, backed up by hundreds of millions of pounds of investment, to support towns and communities across the North East.

This package includes measures to:

Keep the high street open for business by cutting business rates for shops, cinemas and pubs;

Save pubs and post offices, by backing community groups who want to buy their local pubs and post offices with a £150million fund and a nine-month ban on sale to other bidders;

Reconnect towns and villages to the rail network, with a new £500million fund to restore passenger services including on the Ashington, Seaton Delaval and Blyth line, with an additional option being a possible new service from Middlesbrough to Guisborough;

Invest in cycling and walking.

Mr Johnson said: “We are committed to levelling up across Britain. For too long, towns and villages in the North East have been overlooked and left behind. This region voted overwhelmingly to leave the European Union; that vote was a vote for change and your voice will be heard.

“We are going to invest in communities across the North East and help people put the heart back into the fantastic towns and villages you call home. We are going to get Brexit done so that we can unleash the potential of this region.

“We will rejuvenate the high streets, save community assets and improve connectivity by restoring passenger services on the Ashington, Seaton Delaval and Blyth line – bringing these towns within 35 minutes of Newcastle.

“But we can only do this if we end the dither, delay and paralysis in Westminster. We need a Conservative majority government which will deliver for communities across Britain – not a Corbyn-Sturgeon alliance which would expend all its energy on two more chaotic referendums.”

The party’s candidate for the Wansbeck constituency, Jack Gebhard, welcomed the promised rail investment, saying: “This project will make a big difference to the lives of residents in Ashington and Bedlington. This rail line closed shortly after my own mother was born in Ashington and pretty much ever since Labour have talked about reopening it but have never actually achieved anything.

“I’m so proud that our Conservative council working with Boris’ government could get passenger trains running in just three years. We must now get out and show our support for Boris on December 12 to make sure we aren’t let down by Labour yet again.”

Ian Levy, who is contesting the Blyth Valley seat, added: “This announcement shows that the Prime Minister is determined that communities in the Blyth Valley constituency, like Blyth and Seaton Delaval, will no longer be left behind.

“We need to back Boris now to get Brexit done so we can get on with important local projects like this.”