Kim McGuinness was elected in May 2024 as the first mayor of the North East. Credit: NECA

McGuinness sets out North East demands ahead of meeting Starmer

Better public transport and expanded devolution were among the asks of the new Prime Minister in a message from Kim McGuinness, North East mayor, to Keir Starmer on Monday.

McGuinness wrote to Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer to congratulate him and is due to meet with him alongside other metro mayors on Tuesday. Starmer has indicated his commitment to devolving powers to regions and will discuss this with the mayors tomorrow.

McGuinness, who was voted into office in May this year as the North east devolution deal kicked in, said she was looking forward to working with Starmer on “making the North East the home of real opportunity”.

Her main “expectations” of the new government were, her own words, abbreviated below:

  • “Immediate action to safeguard the future of Hitachi and 800 rail jobs in the region, by bringing forward government contracts for new rolling stock.
  • “Supporting efforts to tackle child poverty…The new government should work with the mayor and back the North East as a pilot area to reverse rising child poverty.
  • “Better public transport now. By speeding up the process to create the Angel Network and fast-tracking plans to bring buses under public control. The government should also commit to the reopening of the Leamside Line, a crucial rail link which will unlock regeneration, jobs and connect local people to opportunities across the region.
  • “Expanding the North East’s green economy. Backing the region’s expertise in offshore wind, through investment in ports, infrastructure and businesses looking to invest in the region and create thousands of good green jobs.
  • “Going further and faster on devolution. Opening discussions on a new devolution deal for the region, taking control of more powers from London over adult skills and apprenticeships, rail services and stations, housing and handing power to communities – so people feel the benefits of devolution and more control over their lives.”

McGuinness added: “I have set out practical and immediate steps the new administration can take to make progress on the issues crucial to our region’s future. I believe with more of a say for local people and more decisions made in the region, we’ll be best equipped to create opportunity and fight child poverty.”

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