Fresh 20-year vision to make South Tyneside a 'happier and healthier' place to live

Town hall bosses have revealed their renewed 20-year vision for South Tyneside, with a focus on creating “healthy, happy, and fulfilled” communities.

Over the next 20 years, working alongside key partners, local authority chiefs have pledged to focus their ambition, energy, and resources on tackling the biggest societal issues facing residents.

This includes health inequalities, poverty, the impact of crime on local communities, access to job opportunities and more.

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The renewed vision, a result of engagement with thousands of residents, businesses, partners, council employees and elected members over the past six months, aims to put local people at its heart.

Councillor Tracey Dixon, leader of South Tyneside Council, and chief executive Jonathan Tew

The key goal is for South Tyneside to be a place where people live “healthy, happy, and fulfilled lives”.

The vision is based on five core ambitions which include South Tyneside residents being financially secure; healthy and well throughout their lives; connected to jobs, skills, and learning and part of strong communities.

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Underpinning all of this, the council also wants to target support and resources to “make things fairer” for borough residents.

Councillor Tracey Dixon, leader of South Tyneside Council, said the local authority wanted the borough to be a place of equality where people from all walks of life could strive to do great things.

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“We want everyone in South Tyneside to have a good life and equal access to opportunities,” said.

“We have listened to our communities and reviewed the most up-to-date evidence.

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“For each of the five ‘ambitions’ we have identified some clear priorities and detailed action plans to guide delivery over the next three years.

“For example, following the feedback from traders and the success of events in South Shields town centre, we will bring forward a Market Place development plan.

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“To help realise our ambition of healthy and well people, we will expand the scope of the ‘Healthy Lives’ programme to include preventative exercise classes for those at risk of stroke or diabetes.

“Furthermore, we will report back quarterly to show how we are progressing on our promises so that we can be held to account.

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“This is more than just a vision; it is a clear plan of how we are going to make the most difference to the lives of our residents.

“We promise to keep the conversation with local people going as we move forward in the development of our plans.”

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Along with the emerging Local Plan, Health and Wellbeing Strategy, Adult Social Care Strategy and other strategic documents, the refreshed South Tyneside 20-year vision forms a key part of the framework for the development of the borough.

Council chiefs acknowledged existing challenges around the way councils receive funding from Central Government, as well as governance changes in the NHS and a potential North East devolution deal.

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But Jonathan Tew, chief executive at South Tyneside Council, said it was a “crucial time” to refresh the council’s vision due to the borough coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic, adding he wanted people to know the borough was a ‘place with a plan’ for the future.

He said the plans were backed up by new evidence and public feedback and aimed to build on the borough’s strengths while addressing its key challenges.

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The chief executive continued: “Following our January 2022 Peer Review, which served as an important stock-take moment, we’ve reviewed our latest data and feedback, to ensure this plan is absolutely driven by evidence – gathered through our residents and business surveys, community insights group, workshops and as part of Our South Tyneside Conversation.

“We have some real strengths in South Tyneside and whilst we aspire to build on these, we know that many of our residents continue to face significant challenges that affect their health, happiness, and quality of life.

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“The events of the last few years have magnified these challenges for many and have also exposed and widened the inequality gap between our most and least affluent communities – this vision will directly address that.

“We want our communities to know that this is a place with a plan that will provide opportunities for its people to grow and be successful.”

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Examples of action over the next three years under the new strategy include rolling out “poverty mitigation and prevention advice” and boosting welfare support provision.

Other examples include working with major employers, such as the Port of Tyne, to promote job opportunities, expanding the borough’s tourism offer by “redeveloping visitor attractions and supporting local businesses” and work with partners and the public to tackle “the reality and the perceptions” of crime and anti-social behaviour.

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Plans also include the development of a SEND borough-wide school council to ensure young people can influence provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Cllr Dixon, council leader, said now was the time to take action so the borough could reap the rewards in the future.

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She added: “For us it’s so important that we make the most of this moment and momentum and that we get behind this vision and strategy so that we can focus on the things that matter most to our residents.

“Especially in the context of everything that they have faced in recent years and the challenges that are going to be coming”.

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South Tyneside Council’s cabinet will be asked to endorse the 20-year vision at its next meeting on Wednesday, November 2, before the document is presented to borough council.

The ‘vision’ document is available to view on South Tyneside Council’s website.