The 2010 general election saw the creation of a new constituency covering almost all of central Gateshead, from Lobley Hill in the West and Felling in the East to Chowdene and Wrekenton in the South.
In recent years, and especially since 1997, Gateshead has seen a rebirth with new developments and huge investment. The Gateshead Quays with first the Baltic and then the Sage and the Gateshead Millennium Bridge have served to put Gateshead not just on the local map, but the world map.
Gateshead was a part of the birth of the modern world for it was here that the industrial revolution took hold, the Tyne being the industrial heartbeat of the nation. In recent years there has been new investment but the town still has its problems and there is more work to do to build on what has been achieved already since 1997.
Little can better the description that Ian gave of Gateshead in his maiden speech as an MP in June 2010:
“It is a town-soon to be a city, I hope-that has had many problems. Having been heavily dependent upon primary industries, heavy engineering and manufacturing, the town suffered all the social and economic problems associated with the decline of those traditional industries, yet the resilience and fortitude of the people of Gateshead simply do not allow for self-indulgent moaning. The former Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher, who was spoken about warmly in an earlier speech, once famously described the people of the North-East as “moaning minnies”, but I can honestly say that nothing could be further from the truth.
“Throughout the 1970s and 1980s Gateshead suffered from some of the worst unemployment rates on the United Kingdom mainland. Educational attainment was to say the least poor, if not very poor, and in every social and economic indicator or league table, if it was good news Gateshead was near the bottom, and if it was bad news Gateshead was inevitably near the top. However, the renaissance in Gateshead over the past 20 years has been remarkable, and a testament to the support of the previous Government and, more importantly, to the clear strategic leadership of my colleagues on Gateshead council.
“One example is the rejuvenation of Gateshead quays. Where once there stood derelict warehouses and empty factories, now there stands the iconic Gateshead Millennium bridge, BALTIC, the centre for contemporary art, and the magnificent Sage Gateshead, designed by Sir Norman Foster. To the south of the town centre, … stands Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North. We also have, in the ward that I have represented on the council for 27 years, Saltwell park-a shining example of a Victorian municipal park visited by more than 2 million people annually. These are not just glittering buildings and monuments without substance or purpose-no, they are all internationally acclaimed and recognised, part of Gateshead council’s vision to transform Gateshead. Indeed, the Sage Gateshead, which I know that many Members have visited for conferences over the past few years, has been acclaimed as one of the most acoustically perfect concert halls in the whole world.
“With this transformation we have witnessed an unprecedented reversal of fortunes in comparison with the Gateshead of the ’70s and ’80s. From being among the areas with the worst educational achievement, Gateshead is now towards the top on many measures. In almost every aspect of life, Gateshead has been transformed. Education, housing, social care and employment-all have been transformed by the support from a supportive Government and with leadership from a truly inspirational council, but most of all by the resilience, fortitude and hard work of the people of Gateshead themselves.
“There is still poverty. There is still hardship. There are still too many lives untouched by change. But to anyone who doubts that Britain has got better since we took over from the Tories in 1997, I say this: come to Gateshead and see what the people here have achieved.”