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General Election 2024: ‘Labour has no excuses – it must deliver for the North East’

Labour must create “a stronger, fairer North East” following its landslide election victory, regional business bosses have urged.

Leaders have called on Sir Keir Starmer’s party to act decisively to “move the region forward and support economic growth”.

Their blueprint demands commitments to increase skills development, reduce child poverty, invest in key market sectors, grow international trade, support the green energy transition and boost infrastructure investment.

John McCabe, pictured below, chief executive at the North East Chamber of Commerce, said: “The new Government must now deliver for our region.

“The Chamber went into this election campaign with five clear asks – create the conditions for growth; develop skills for local needs; invest in key sectors; reduce child poverty and increase economic participation; and grow trade through improved exporter confidence.




“If we can achieve them in partnership with the Government, this region will have played its part in a decade of national economic renewal.”

Stephen Patterson, pictured below, chief executive of Newcastle NE1, the business improvement district company for Newcastle city centre, agreed.

He called on the new Government to harness its overwhelming presence across the region’s political landscape, which includes recently-elected North East mayor Kim McGuinness, to deliver great change.

He said: “We have a new Government, a Labour mayor and the vast majority of our region’s councils are of the same political hue.

“The scale of the electoral success is significant.



“As we have seen in Teesside (and Conservative mayor Ben Houchen), we need to use the strength of this position to move the city and the region forward, and to act decisively to support the economic growth of this region.

“There can be no excuses.

“Top of the list should be unreserved support for Sage Arena and International Conference Centre.

“This would be a complete economic game-changer for Gateshead, Newcastle and the region, and needs to be delivered within the next political cycle.

“We need action and we need it now – no excuses, no delays.”

Tania Cooper, pictured below, chair of the North East STEM Foundation, urged Labour to prioritise funding for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and apprenticeships.

The managing director at Middlesbrough-based Steel Benders UK, said additional funding for specialist STEM schools, such as University Technical Colleges, and apprenticeships, would help address a skills shortage and meet the demands of modern industry and ambitious green targets.

She said: “The outdated and underfunded STEM education system leaves students ill-equipped.

“Specialist STEM schools, which see an eight-fold increase in students entering apprenticeships compared to the national average, offer education tailored to industry’s requirements.



“However, many students face barriers to accessing them due to transport and associated costs.

“The new Government must prioritise funding and STEM education and training to eliminate obstacles if the country is to develop a skilled workforce capable of driving a low-carbon economy.

“We need to meet targets like 600,000 heat pumps annually by 2028 and 50 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030.”

Danielle Croce, pictured below, commercial director at Stockton-based Intasite, which provides software to manage safety and site access across high-hazard industries, said Labour must increase the focus on digital infrastructure and cybersecurity to “combat the rising tide of cyber threats.”



She added: “Ensuring universal broadband accessibility, with a focus on high-speed internet and 5G deployment, is also essential to bridging the digital divide and supporting remote work and education.

“And advancing digital innovation and skills is crucial; this includes offering incentives and support for tech start-ups to drive innovation, maintaining the UK’s competitive edge in the global tech landscape, and enhancing digital skills education to align with industry needs.”

Steve Roberts, pictured below, chief executive of the Groundwork NE & Cumbria charity, said: “Action is needed immediately to tackle hardship and isolation, which is endemic across our region.

“We also need to refocus on the environment to achieve a just transition to net-zero by helping nature recover in a way that reduces inequalities.



“Helping young people to realise their potential and providing them with much-needed opportunities, particularly in the green economy, is crucial.”

David Whitehouse, chief executive of trade body Offshore Energies UK, said: “Homegrown offshore energy is a jewel in the UK’s industrial crown that the Government must treasure.

“Labour has put economic growth at the heart of its plans, and our offshore energy sector can deliver just that.

“UK offshore energy companies could invest £200 billion in homegrown energy production this decade alone in carbon storage, hydrogen and wind opportunities, alongside the homegrown oil and gas we all need.”

He added: “We need Labour to follow through on assurances to work in partnership with the sector, listen to our skilled people and ensure no one is left behind in the UK’s energy transition.”

July 5, 2024

  • Ideas & Observations

Created by Steven Hugill