Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Tyneside Is Getting Better All the Time

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Tyneside Is Getting Better All the Time

Article excerpt

In the final part of our exclusive series of articles by party leaders, Tony Blair sends his message to Chronicle readers before the town hall and European elections

Michael Howard's underlying message to Chronicle readers in yesterday's paper was that life on Tyneside hasn't really changed for the better over the last seven years.

If the Tory leader really does believe there has been no progress here since 1997, he clearly doesn't know this area very well.

After some difficult times, Tyneside is bouncing back strongly.

Any visitor can see the difference and feel the new confidence.

However, there are still challenges to overcome for the region.

Every family and every community here must share fairly in our rising prosperity and increasing opportunity.

I can assure Chronicle readers I realise how much more still needs to be done.

But I also know there is plenty of evidence of real improvements on the ground and that the sustained investment going into our vital public services is delivering.

Schools and hospitals here are getting better.

There are thousands more doctors, teachers, police officers and nurses than in 1997.

There are 2,000 more nurses in Newcastle's hospitals alone and more than 250 extra officers in the Northumbrian force.

There's more help for children, for pensioners and the low-paid. The minimum wage is helping 90,000 people here in the North East.

Mortgage rates are low and, of course, unemployment has halved on Tyneside, while youth unemployment, for so long a shadow here, is down 80%, thanks to the enthusiasm of local firms for the New Deal.

In fact, the latest official figures confirm there has been one more person into work nationally every two minutes since this Government has been in power. That's a total of 1.95 million extra jobs in the last seven years. …

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