Newcastle Labour’s ‘Plan B’
The council I lead has, as its number one priority, an ambition to make Newcastle a working city; a place where prosperity and growth are shared for the benefit of all. Good quality jobs, where people feel secure in their employment and are able to put down roots in their local community, are the best way of ensuring people have dignity, self-respect and hope for the future.
People in work also means fewer community tensions, fewer health and social problems, less crime, and is the best way of increasing the resilience of individuals and communities. So, creating jobs, and ensuring local people have the skills to do them, is part of our vision for a fairer city, where people rely less on public services.
The economic environment is tough, with Newcastle’s fortunes mirroring national trends. Even the most optimistic forecasters are only predicting weak growth for the UK over the next three years. The failure of the coalition’s austerity programme is all too apparent. In addition, global trends such as climate change and population ageing, present additional opportunities and challenges which require us to think differently about our economy.
Newcastle has notable strengths and successes: in the marine and offshore sector, professional services, engineering industries, and in our science and education institutions. We have a vibrant city centre with strong cultural, retail and tourism businesses. But there is untapped potential and we are determined to work with our partners to release it.
We are therefore playing a distinct role in shaping our local economy, working with partners from business, education and our communities, influencing government, and collaborating with Gateshead and other local authorities across the region. Even as we face up to severe cuts in funding over the next three years, we are determined to maintain our commitment to this role. We are therefore:
• providing leadership, support and coordination in the search for new opportunities;
• promoting investment in the skills that are needed by employers;
• modernising our transport, housing, broadband and business infrastructure;
• welcoming and supporting investors and innovators, including by maintaining the attractiveness of our city as a place to live and invest;
• ensuring that local people and communities are able to take advantage of new
• expanding the scale, diversity and affordability of housing, helping more families secure the housing they need;
• working in partnership across the north-east, forging new alliances to take on more responsibility for the region’s economic future.
Our aim is to match the scale of ambition of the most successful cities, ensuring that
Newcastle is recognised as a great place to live, work, visit and invest. We are demonstrating the difference that a business-friendly Labour council can make in the toughest of times, and why it is essential to renew our commitment to promoting opportunity for all. We have instigated a £400m capital programme to invest in infrastructure, broadband and housing – not only preparing the city to benefit from growth in the future, but creating thousands of much-needed construction jobs now. The coalition’s plan for the economy has failed – so we’ve produced our own ‘Plan B’ as our way of showing confidence in the future.
Nick Forbes is leader of Newcastle city council. He tweets @Nick_Forbes
Newcastle Labour’s 10-point plan for jobs and growth:
• Investing £16m in ultrafast broadband capacity, so that all areas of Newcastle have high speed, reliable internet access;
• Supporting people to gain skills for work through a partnership with Job Centre Plus;
• Setting up an apprenticeship ‘hub’ to coordinate placements and make it easier for businesses to take on apprentices;
• Promoting low-carbon and ‘green’ business opportunities, especially wind turbines and carbon capture technology;
• Creating a £25m Future Homes Fund, to build more affordable housing;
• Bringing 250 empty and abandoned houses a year back into use;
• Investing in Newcastle Central Station as an important ‘gateway’ into the city;
• Campaigning for new international flights from Newcastle airport and better rail links to major cities;
• A new vocational school teaching business skills in the West End of Newcastle;
• A Living Wage of £7.20 per hour, making work pay and reducing financial stress for hard pressed families.
local government, LocalLab13, Newcastle