These things are rare so I aimed to make the most of it.
I told Mr Johnson how the River Tyne, with its world-renowned offshore and subsea sectors, has been repeatedly sidelined by the Government, despite my and others constantly lobbying Ministers for investment that would massively increase employment opportunities and help the UK’s transition to net zero.
I then outlined my excitement, and that of many other civic and business leaders, to see our voice is now being magnified by a new Tyne taskforce set up by local authorities, the port, businesses and the combined authority.
I then demanded the Prime Minister commit his Government to work with us to realise the full potential of our great river.
I am pleased the PM replied that I was absolutely right that the River Tyne is a massive economic asset for the whole of the north-east.
He added the Tyne has suffered from historic contamination, but that his government is going to work with the North East local enterprise partnership to invest another £6million to help to develop clear plans for sustainable economic growth along the whole of the estuary.
This is a good start but I am not going to be brushed off with warm words alone. We need to see the detail of the policy before we can believe the necessary regeneration of the Tyne is at hand.
I will keep up the pressure to make sure that policy and funds flow to Tyneside.