Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It's Time for the North East to Move into Future

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It's Time for the North East to Move into Future

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Benneworth

I'M now back in the North East for a few weeks sorting out buying a new house in Whitley Bay. I've certainly had the luck with the weather, with the beautiful sunlight showing off the town, its beaches and its parks at their finest.

Nowhere in Whitley Bay looks more stunning than the Dome, especially when thronged with seaside goers. The Spanish City remains a monument to local councillors' steadfast work in trying to build attractive places in the teeth of the global crisis and austerity.

Certainly Whitley Bay has gone through something of a renaissance in recent years, with a host of new shops, cafes and restaurants springing up around town. But despite this buzz of energy, it's a clearly struggling post-industrial landscape rather than a booming town centre.

It's hard to tell how much is artisanal aesthetic and how much is business model, but there's a definite 'lean' feel to many of trhe new shops, cafes and bars.

It's tremendous quality and value for the customer, but those low prices are not paying for much more than keeping the town going.

Keeping things going is impressive enough given how recent governments connived to suck the life out of our economy.

Savage cuts to the public sector, local government and regional development funds left the whole regional economy clinging on precariously by its fingertips. Those cuts' defenders have argued that they are being cruel to be kind.

The government's view is that London is the UK's beating heart, and money invested in the South East is much better spent than in remote provinces like the North East.

It's why in London they have Crossrail, the HS2 plans and new tube lines, while we have 40-yearold metro trains that can't even handle new radios.

That government narrative fits perhaps too conveniently with the post-war Whitehall stereotype of the north: "here be dragons", as a civil servant once told me. …

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