KATE OSBORNE: Councils deserve praise for the good work that they do locally

A week today, residents of South Tyneside and Gateshead will head to the polls for the 2022 local elections.

In South Tyneside and Gateshead over the last year, the Labour-controlled councils have done some marvellous work as we leave the Covid-19 pandemic which has been a very difficult period for everyone across our communities.

This is also at a time when the Conservative-controlled central Government has cut funding to our local authorities by millions of pounds per year: our local councils have already lost over half of their funding over the past 12 years, making it very difficult for them to govern and maintain services.

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The South Tyneside Labour administration has put green policies at the heart of its agenda with projects such as the multi-million-pound Hebburn Minewater Project which will provide renewable heat to public sector buildings in Hebburn by collecting mine water from Hebburn Colliery and reducing 319 tonnes of carbon dioxide from our local communities each year.

The Viking Energy Park in Jarrow is also starting to take shape which is expected to cut annual carbon emissions by 1,035 tonnes, as well as save around half a million pounds per year.

Schemes such as these are why South Tyneside Council’s “Sustainable South Tyneside Strategy” was recently shortlisted in the Climate Response category in the Local Government Chronicle Awards.

Moving to investment and jobs, South Tyneside Council has prioritised economic recovery and investment post covid. The International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) is a fantastic cross-boundary, joint venture between Sunderland and South Tyneside Councils and will create over 5,200 new jobs in our area.

No matter what happens next Thursday on the 5th of May, councillors need to put the people they represent at the forefront of every single decision they make. They must represent their constituents with honesty, integrity and respect and I wish all candidates the very best of luck.

The impact of the Covid pandemic has hit our area hard, but our councils have really gone above and beyond to help our communities.

It has been a very difficult time for our local authorities, but they do carry out so much good work locally every single day, and they deserve much praise as we look to a brighter future.