Bold ideas for Newcastle could win city £4m cash prize

Newcastle is up against European cities in the international Mayors Challenge competition which could see them win £4m

The Mayors Challenge workshop in the Civic Centre Newcastle
The Mayors Challenge workshop in the Civic Centre Newcastle

Innovative ideas that could see more than £4m ploughed into the future of a North East city have been whittled down to a shortlist.

Newcastle is competing against top European cities for the multi-million-pound fund available through the international Mayors Challenge competition.

City leaders have been tasked by Bloomberg Philanthropies to come up with a bold proposal that will improve the community and solve one of its problems.

The runner-up will receive around £800,000 in the contest organised by Michael Bloomberg, philanthropist and mayor of New York City, after it was hailed a success in America.

Newcastle City Council turned to the public for help and three ideas will now go before a panel of judges.

A Trip Advisor-style digital platform displaying feedback on goods and services in Tyneside, employment hubs focusing on deprived communities and an inter-generational education project are among the ideas.

The digital platform project has a working name of Destination Newcastle: Where People Connect With Change. Neil Barker, a member of Newcastle’s Age Friendly City partnership, has helped pull the idea together.

He hopes the site will connect people with what Newcastle has to offer but also improve the democratic process when individuals give public feedback on local authority services.

Mr Barker said: “All of the submissions aim to ensure Newcastle is and remains a great place to live, work and bring up your family.

“The demographic of the city is changing and we want to put in place a process that will improve the democratic deficit in a way that empowers people.”

The second submission, Full Employment Newcastle, would see the cash used to set up employment hubs in poorer areas of the city such as Byker, Benwell, Scotswood and Elswick.

The final idea, Raising Skills/Raising Lives, would connect education professionals and older people with those hoping to study or re-train through a digital platform.

Coun David Stockdale, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Culture, Leisure and Libraries, told the working groups at Newcastle Civic Centre yesterday: “The number and quality of ideas has been beyond our expectations.

“Youth unemployment, skills shortages, rising energy costs, health, environmental issues and transport problems are just a few of the challenges you want to tackle.

“By thinking innovatively, by considering each others’ idea and by working together, I am confident you will develop fantastic ideas for shortlisting. Let’s make sure the judging panel have a difficult decision to make.”

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