A week today, residents of South Tyneside and Gateshead will head to the polls for the 2022 local elections.
In South Tyneside and Gateshead over the last year, the Labour-controlled councils have done some marvellous work across our boroughs as we leave the Covid-19 pandemic which has undoubtedly been a very difficult period for everyone across our communities.
This is also at a time when the Conservative-controlled central Government has cut funding to our local authorities by millions of pounds per year, our local councils have already lost over half of their funding over the past twelve years, making it very difficult for councils to govern and maintain services.
The South Tyneside Labour administration has put green policies at the heart of its agenda with projects such as the multi-million-pound Hebburn Minewater Project which will provide renewable heat to public sector buildings in Hebburn by collecting Minewater from Hebburn Colliery. This is a great initiative that brings our very proud coal mining past into the present in the form of a green scheme that will reduce 319 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide from our local communities each year.
The Viking Energy Park in Jarrow is also starting to take shape which is expected to cut annual carbon emissions by 1,035 tonnes, as well as save around half a million pounds per year.
Schemes such as these are why South Tyneside Council’s ‘Sustainable South Tyneside Strategy’ was recently shortlisted in the Climate Response category in the Local Government Chronicle Awards.
Gateshead Council released their Climate Change Strategy in 2010 which aims to make all Council activities carbon neutral by 2030 to tackle climate change – and since it was introduced the measured carbon emissions have already reduced by 55%, exceeding the planned target.
Moving to investment and jobs, South Tyneside Council has prioritised economic recovery and investment post covid. The International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) is a fantastic cross-boundary, joint venture between Sunderland and South Tyneside Councils and will create over 5,200 new jobs in our area. This is an exciting plan that we will see grow over the next 15-20 years and is worth keeping an eye on!
I was a local Councillor for many years before I was elected as the MP for the Jarrow constituency and I am extremely proud to serve you all, every single day, regardless of your politics.
No matter what happens next Thursday on the 5th May, councillors need to put the people they represent at the forefront of every single decision they make. They must represent their constituents with honesty, integrity and respect and I wish all candidates the very best of luck.
The impact of the Covid pandemic has hit our area hard, but our Councils have really gone above and beyond to help our communities, from waste collections to care workers and business support, to support our residents.
It has been a very difficult time for our local authorities, but they do carry out so much good work locally every single day, and they deserve much praise as we look to a brighter future.