Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Miliband V Clegg as Battle for Tyneside Heats Up

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Miliband V Clegg as Battle for Tyneside Heats Up

Article excerpt

Byline: Adrian Pearson Regional affairs correspondent

TYNESIDE was at the centre of the political battle as two party leaders set out their case.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg was in Newcastle to launch the next round of the multi-million pound regional growth fund.

Across the river in Gateshead Labour leader Ed Miliband was at the Baltic in Gateshead setting out his views on the North East's economic worries.

Liberal Democrat leader Mr Clegg hit out at Labour while on a visit to Walker-based DUCO, an engineering firm which has benefited from the growth fund.

He said the previous Government was to blame for the economic problems now facing Tyneside and elsewhere.

He said: "Previous governments have sucked up to banks in the city of London, under the false illusion that the whole of the country would benefit.

"All of that came to a crushing end when Labour crashed the country's economy back in 2008.

"I set up the Regional Growth Fund two or three years ago to allow companies to get a leg-up. Most importantly, it's about creating and safeguarding jobs in the local area.

"I'm from South Yorkshire, which like the North East, has been heavily reliant on public sector employment for too long.

"We need to rebalance the British economy and make sure this region can stand on its own two feet.

"This government is expanding apprenticeships on a scale that this country hasn't seen in a generation."

He added that a new high speed railway was vital for the UK and should be delivered within the agreed budget.

"Labour is playing political games with a major infrastructure project which is essential to the prosperity of our country going forward," he said.

"Labour needs to get off the fence and stop deterring progress in regions like the North East."

In Gateshead Mr Miliband was forced to defend his popularity in the region. The MP has struggled in poll ratings and seen three North East Labour politicians resign from shadow Government over the last year in protest at his policies.

Alongside that has been outspoken criticism of Mr Miliband's decision to break funding links with the unions and criticism from former cabinet minister Nick Brown over welfare reform. …

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