NORTHUMBERLAND County Council has pledged to “get our economy back on track” as part of its six-point pledge for a Covid-19 recovery across the county.

Council leader Coun. Peter Jackson announced the plans at a county council cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

However, he described the reported 34,000 furloughed jobs and the 75 per cent rise in Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants from March to May in Northumberland as ‘very sobering’.

“We need to rebuild confidence through strong leadership and acknowledge that we have not lost our strengths in innovation, skills, our natural assets, and of course our people, and we need to harness all these to make sure we meet the challenge and come back stronger than ever,” he said.

Revealing its Leader’s Pledge, the council plans to ensure its tourism industry returns stronger than ever by working with partners and businesses and investing to promote the area.

The authority also announced it plans to move ahead swiftly with its plans to invest in new infrastructure.

Regenerating its town centres, including Hexham, as well as working on plans to invest in the future of its rural towns formed a key part of the plans alongside converting its Covid Business Hub into a permanent feature after distributing £90m in grants to local businesses during the pandemic.

Coun. Jackson said the Prime Minister’s announcement on the further easing of lockdown before the meeting was a positive one for the county’s tourism industry.

The county’s hospitality, accommodation, food and drink, and retail sectors have all suffered as a result of the pandemic, at a time which would ordinarily be the run-up to peak tourist season.

Coun. Jackson added: “We’re not there yet, but we can see some light at the end of the tunnel.”

The council’s recovery plan was met with optimism by all cabinet members, including Coun. Cath Homer, the cabinet member for tourism, and county councillor for Hexham East. She said: “Tourism in Northumberland had been increasing year on year before the virus hit, which makes recovery even more important.”

The council also said it would progress its Climate Action Plan and its Great Northumberland Forest project to plant one million trees.