Securing a fairer funding settlement was top of the agenda when Labour’s North East troops gathered to launch a manifesto for the region.
MPs and Westminster candidates gathered at the party’s campaign headquarters in Stockton to set out their stall ahead of May’s General Election.
A regional minister, greater devolution, a boost for transport, a North East investment bank and rolling out the living wage were also on the list of priorities for Labour campaigners.
It comes as figures show hundreds of millions of pounds have been moved away from the region’s public sector organisations while other affluent, often Tory heartland areas saw an increase.
The North East is also one of the country’s biggest exporters but the region continues to struggle with the highest unemployment rate.
Helen Goodman MP for Bishop Auckland and chairman of the group said: “We want to see our region thrive again and believe our plan covering everything from fair funding and a National Investment Bank to improved rail, road and airport infrastructure and many more decisions taken in the North East, will do that.
“We do not however underestimate the size of the challenge and believe only with national and local politicians, business and industry, colleges and universities and others working together, can we succeed in exploiting the talents of our people and provide them and their families with the future they are entitled to.”
The Tories will maintain the country must stick its “long term economic plan” but Labour North East has set out two priorities as its members of Ed Miliband’s party fight for a win at the ballot box in May.
The news the party will campaign for a Minister for the North East could also see the former postholder Newcastle East MP Nick Brown return to the role after the Coalition scrapped the position.
Manifesto for the North East
The main points of the manifesto are:
* Secure fair funding based on the needs of the region
* A living wage
* Development of sector-based industrial strategies to help industry clusters work better together and build local supply chains
* The creation of an investment bank for the region
* Significant investment in the road network and regulation of bus services
* Improvement to the rail system and modern trains
* Development of our regional ports and airports to encourage better international connectivity and boost investment
* A regional tourism strategy to bring back more visitors
* Our employers, colleges and universities working closer together to develop the skills we need
* A careers and guidance service that informs our young people of the vast choices available to them as they plan their future
* Greater devolution of decision making and funding to combined authorities working with Local Enterprise Partnerships and a regional minister
* Staying within the European Union