Easyjet blow - real action needed quickly on jobs, skills, transport links and local projects
The closure of Easyjet's hub at Newcastle Airport is very regrettable, and the Liberal Democrats are extremely concerned about the implications for the region, the Council and the Government.
Firstly, those who are losing their jobs have our deepest sympathies. These and others now set to become unemployed need support and retraining. Newcastle City Council needs to urgently debate these matters and come up with a plan: that's why Labour's decision to block debate on our motion to invest in apprenticeships and skills training at the last meeting was so shortsighted. The Liberal Democrats will be resubmitting their motion until Labour takes its responsibilities seriously.
Secondly, the reduction in easy routes for local holidaymakers and business people highlights the need for immediate upgrades for the rail lines from Newcastle to Edinburgh and to Leeds to improve connectivity. HS2 will not come to the North East quickly enough - if at all - to address the challenges the Region faces right now, and this must be urgently addressed.
The North East has just been condemned to an even poorer future by this blow. Government needs to step up with real plans which create real jobs for local people, not trumpeting projects that have previously been announced. One example which is literally shovel ready is repairs to potholes in roads - small tasks for Councils and local businesses, but with big benefits to the quality of life. Another is spending that meets the needs for improvements in local schools now rather than at the back end of the decade. And plans need to be accelerated for new cycle ways into the currently underserved western parts of the City.