THE North East mayor has called on the new Labour government to “urgently” act to protect jobs and deliver vital improvements in our region – including saving a major train factory and fast-tracking plans to bring the region’s buses under public control.

Kim McGuinness is set to travel to Downing Street on Tuesday (July 9) to meet with Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer, alongside other metro mayors from across England.

Ahead of that summit, the Labour mayor has urged Sir Keir to commit to “practical and immediate” action for the North East in the opening days of his new administration.

In a letter sent to the PM on Monday morning (July 8), Ms McGuinness pinpoints five key pledges that she wants to “work together on straight away”.

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They are:

  • Safeguarding the future of hundreds of jobs at the Hitachi Rail factory in Newton Aycliffe by bringing forward government contracts for new trains;
  • Making the North East a “pilot area” for plans to reduce child poverty;
  • A major overhaul of the region’s public transport by fast-tracking Ms McGuinness’ plan to take control of the bus network away from private operators and by  committing to the reopening of the mothballed Leamside railway line;
  • Boosting green industries like offshore wind in the region through investment in ports, infrastructure and backing for businesses looking to invest here;
  • Opening talks on a new devolution deal for the region that would hand the mayor more powers – including over adult skills and apprenticeships, rail services and stations, and housing.

Ms McGuinness, who was elected in May, said:  “I vowed to fight for the North East on the national stage and end the days where our region is overlooked. So today I am wasting no time in both extending my heartfelt congratulations to the new Prime Minister and in asking him and his Cabinet to work together with me on making the North East the home of real opportunity.  

“The North East cannot afford to wait if we are to make that vision a reality.  I’m delighted that the Prime Minister has shown such early commitment to devolution and I’m very much looking forward to our meeting at Downing Street.” 

She 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. 

“It’s been great to work with the Prime Minister and the new cabinet on policy during our recent campaigns and I now look forward to continuing to work closely with them in Government to support our ambitions and unlock the potential of our people and places here in the North East.”  

In the address he gave at Downing Street on Saturday, Sir Keir pledged to back local leaders regardless of their political allegiance. 

Labour holds 11 of the 12 mayoralties across the country, with the Tees Valley’s Conservative mayor Ben Houchen being the only exception.

The Prime Minister said on Saturday (July 6): “The principle I operate to is those with skin in the game know what’s best for their communities, and that does require us to be bold about pushing power and resource out of Whitehall. And therefore, when I return from the four nations, I shall hold a meeting of the Metro mayors to discuss with them their part in delivering the growth that we need across the United Kingdom. That will be on Tuesday.

“That will include non-Labour Metro mayors. There’s no monopoly on good ideas. And I’m not a tribal politician.

“And the principle I operate to, whether it’s mayors or other elected representatives, is that where regional leaders want to deliver for their area then, regardless of the colour of their rosette, my door is open and my government will work with them.”