Call for 'warm and welcome' public spaces to help South Tyneside through cost of living crisis

Green Party councillors in South Tyneside are calling for support to promote “warm and welcome” public spaces to help residents during the cost of living crisis.

Thousands of people living in South Tyneside are expected to be hit by the impact of inflation, including rising fuel and energy prices.

This falls against a backdrop of existing deprivation and health inequalities in the area, with many individuals already facing fuel and food poverty.

In recent years, town hall bosses have worked to tackle issues locally, including setting up a Poverty Commission to identify issues and propose practical steps to help those facing hardship.

South Tyneside Green Party Green Group Councillors

With the Bank of England predicting that inflation pressures will continue to climb, South Tyneside Green Party is hoping more can be done to support residents.

At a full council meeting next week, the opposition group will launch a motion aiming to provide further support for those feeling the pinch.

The motion will ask council to “provide and publicise” a list of opening times and locations of public council buildings that can be accessed free of charge which offer “warm and welcome” spaces.

This forms part of an aim to promote places where people can “keep warm and comfortable this coming autumn and winter”.

Green Councillor Sarah McKeown.

In addition, the motion asks the council to work with partner organisations to “identify and promote” other locally based voluntary community sector groups, faith groups and social enterprise provision offering similar support.

Greens are also asking councillors to “ensure such ‘warm and welcome’ public spaces can offer additional support and advice services to help individuals and families access other services to alleviate food and fuel poverty”.

The final call includes a request to the local authority’s Labour cabinet to “consider possibilities” for funding to be made available to support this service in time for the autumn/winter months.

Councillor Sarah McKeown, ward councillor for Beacon and Bents in South Shields, is expected to launch the motion and is hoping for cross-party support.

Cllr McKeown said: “The impact of domestic fuel and food price rises will adversely affect the health and well-being of many South Tyneside residents, with some people already having to choose between heating or eating.

“Local authorities have a duty to promote and protect the health and well-being of the public, and to prevent avoidable harm.”

The Green Group motion will be debated and put to the vote at South Shields Town Hall on Thursday, September 8.

The meeting is scheduled to start at 6pm and will be open to the public.