Replay: Debate on future vision of Newcastle city centre

A live debate took place this afternoon at Newcastle Civic Centre regarding the city's future vision. Our reporters Adrian Pearson and Richard Fletcher were reporting live from the event here and on the hashtag #toonfuture

See a video below of Council Leader Nick Forbes giving his impression of the event:


Newcastle City Council are this afternoon hosting a live debate on the future vision of Newcastle at the city's Civic Centre. Journal editor Brian Aitken is chairing the State of the City debate and our regional affairs correspondent Adrian Pearson and online content writer Richard Fletcher are live blogging from the event. There is also a Twitter hashtag, #tooncity, where you can post your own comments and contributions - the best will be included below in our live blog.


Richard Fletcher tweeted from Newcastle Civic Centre where stakeholders in the city's future have gathered for a debate on the future vision of the city:



Journal editor Brian Aitken will give the first address at the State of the City debate at Newcastle's Civic Centre. He has just started speaking and kicked off proceedings by introducing a video canvassing views from groups including Newcastle Uni and Byker Trust.


The panel are now speaking of reasons to be optimistic about the future: top class schools, investment in collaboration with private sector. Today's panel includes Jamie Martin of Ward Hadaway and Jim Bernie of Live Theatre.


Newcastle City Council are tweeting live from the event on the hashtag #toonfuture - here's a selection of their tweets:



Our regional affairs correspondent Adrian Pearson tweets that the Newcastle chief exec is talking of her optimism for city. This comes following her successful city deal lobbying. He also said:



A nice point here from The Cyrenians (@thecyrenians), a charity supporting vulnerable and homeless people in the North East:



Nigel Todd, Newcastle City Councillor for Wingrove Ward, makes the point on Twitter that community-led environmental projects like Greening Wingrove can flourish in Newcastle.


A healthy response on the #toonfuture hashtag on Twitter. AmmarMirza says that the #toonfuture is very bright especially from an Asian business point of view and suggests that @abconnexions, a social enterprise that aims to connect, support and promote the Asian world, can provide examples.


Adrian Pearson: The Newcastle Council leader warns that local government is working with officers who have only ever managed growth.


A compliment - we think - for the Journal editor, as @DavidStockdale  Labour Councillor for Blakelaw Ward & Deputy Cabinet Member for Public Health, Culture, Leisure & Libraries on Newcastle Council tweets on his debate chairing skills:



Adrian Pearson: Claims that Newcastle food banks are changing what they hand out as some users can't afford to heat food which needs to be cooked are good.


Richard Fletcher tweets that Newcastle city council leader Nick Forbes is speaking of the economic problems facing all councils, but also plans to set the shape of future development. "I refuse to let this city stagnate," the council leader said. 


Nick Forbes is also lending his voice to the #toonfuture hashtag as the debate continues. He tweets that it's difficult to speak about Newcastle with one voice- many people face a bright future as economy picks up but others face a more uncertain future. He also said that Newcastle can't achieve success without the support of its residents. Examples given of ways in which the city is supporting those who live there include helping veterans access better housing, plus hosting Britain's biggest science festival and launching a new culture fund to mobilise the arts.


Nick Forbes continues by saying he's proud that Newcastle pays the living wage as a council - "a city can't be at ease with itself if talents are wasted". He also acknowledged that Newcastle has a smoking and drinking problem, but that the council is doing its best to tackle this.


Nick Forbes says that the council's local plan for Newcastle, due to be launched this week, will support 14,000 jobs and 21,000 new homes. "The greatest challenge we have," he tweets, "is maintaining social care spending and service provision - a national crisis in the making."


The debate has now been opened to the floor for questions. If you have a comment or opinion on what's been said, post at the foot of this article or on Twitter on the #toonfuture hashtag.


Pat Ritchie, chief executive of Newcastle City Council, has been talking and taking questions from the floor. She's said that it's important to be realistic about the effect that budget cuts on local authorities will have on their ability to deliver services, but that Newcastle has a £450m capital investment programme, and is an ambitious city with confidence in its future. She believes their role as a council is to create the right conditions for businesses to grow, e.g. the Toffee Factory in Ouseburn and Science Central.

Asked how the council was involving young people, she talked about the Blakelaw Neighbourhood Centre and how young people are involved in planning its future. "We want to support vulnerable children with an integrated approach - focusing on needs of the family and not silo working," she said.


@LiveTheatre's Jim Beirne is now talking about the strength of Newcastle's cultural offer and the opportunities it presents to young people as the debate continues to focus around ways in which the city can do more to involve the young people living there.


Shona Alexander, chief executive at Newcastle upon Tyne's Citizens Advice Bureau, has also been speaking about the work of volunteers in the city. She said of the debate about young people that the CAB is increasingly seeing families under pressure and that takes its toll on children. "How to stop the the bailiffs, how do we save their home - these are often the issues we deal with," she said.


Newcastle City Council have tweeted a photo of the debate at the Civic Centre, confirming that there has been a good turnout of over 100 people:




David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer