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Gateshead plans show up Labour's lack of ambition say Liberal Democrats

July 21, 2017 2:01 PM
Gateshead moving forward with convention centre plans including a new Arena is undoubtedly good news for Tyneside, says Cllr Anita Lower, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Newcastle City Council. Securing a convention centre was always an important aspiration for Newcastle's former Liberal Democrat council administration, but the 2008 crash badly affected developer confidence. Under Newcastle's current political leadership, these ambitions have dropped off the agenda.
Both Newcastle and Gateshead have benefited hugely from the successful Newcastle-Gateshead partnership centred on the Quayside in recent years, but there is a perception that this co-operation has lessened in recent years given differences over North East devolution. We would like to see more joint working between the two authorities to ensure both sides of the river benefit from developments like this one. Better transport links need to be a big part of this, given that thousands of people will be using the new Arena every week and given existing congestion in the vicinity of the Tyne Bridge and Quayside.
We hope that Newcastle council will now seek to use the opportunity created by the Arena's move to unlock the potential of the Forth Banks regeneration area. Newcastle needs to demonstrate it can match Gateshead's success in securing investment and getting development moving. The area has considerable economic potential, as shown by the investment in the Stephenson Quarter, but there has not been much sign of progress on the extensive derelict sites nearby.
Forth Banks could help to fulfil an important need for more employment-related development between the Stephenson Quarter and Newcastle Business Park. We hope that Newcastle council will seek to match Gateshead's ambition in creating an attractor development which offers more than just residential apartments. Gateshead have shown it is possible: Newcastle needs to get on with it.