Investment Change is happening

Dawn Powell’s letter ‘Change is Needed Now’ (News Post Leader, June 18) cannot be left unanswered.

Ms Powell argues that leadership and accountability is needed to support the town of Blyth.

As the leader of the county council I have responsibility for the whole of the county, but change is indeed happening in Blyth.

Under the Business Growth Programme, £990,550 has been committed to businesses in Blyth, creating 57 jobs.

We have three areas of land designated as Enterprise Zones in Blyth.

Arch, the council’s development company is successfully promoting these areas, and in May the £8m Blyth Workspace building at Commissioners Quay was opened, and a 40-bedroom inn and restaurant will start construction shortly on an adjoining site. The final stage of this development will see the construction of 52 sustainable low energy homes, giving added life to Blyth’s waterfront.

The Townscape Heritage Initiative, co-ordinated by Arch, has awarded £550,000 to help local businesses in Blyth to restore their buildings and shop fronts.

Businesses and buildings that have benefited from this include Frameworks, the former Lloyds Bank in Bridge Street, the Beauty Factory and Rickard Chartered Surveyors.

We are also working with other businesses to repair and restore a number of important building facades in Bridge Street, and £650,000 is being invested into improving Blyth bus station, aimed at improving lighting, paving materials, access, crossing points, soft landscaping and street furniture.

All of these initiatives are focused on encouraging more people to use local shops and services, contributing to the overall sustainability of Blyth town centre and helping the local economy to flourish.

On the transport front, the county council is investing £5m to make the case for the reopening of the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne railway line to passengers.

The council has gained the support of the North East Combined Authority for this ambitious plan, and the aim is to have a passenger service from Blyth into Newcastle by 2019.

Attracting major events into the town is a key objective and, as well as the various local events that are organised each year, we have been successful in bringing the prestigious Tour of Britain to the county.

Two stages of the race will take place in the county and on September 9, the stage race will finish in Blyth.

In addition, Blyth is hosting the North Sea Tall Ships Regatta in August 2016, involving some of the largest and most spectacular tall ships in the world. This will be a spectacular maritime festival with thousands of visitors coming to the town.

Northumberland Live once again took place in the town in June and was headlined by Toploader. This free festival for all the family, with music, food and entertainment, was a great advert for the county and for Blyth.

I could continue and mention the affordable housing programme, local transport schemes, commercial property portfolio and improved leisure facilities.

The county council is leading the ambition to create a thriving and sustainable town in Blyth, and while I would be the first to admit that we don’t get it right all of the time, I think there is a lot that is happening that we should celebrate and be proud of.

Grant Davey

Leader, NCC.