Keeping You Informed (August 2011)

Dear Newcastle

It has been a tense few days for all of us and a terrifying time for those affected by the riots in Bristol, Birmingham, Nottingham, Wolverhampton, Salford, Leicester, Manchester and London.

That that list does not include Newcastle is something for which we should all be very thankful.  Our hearts must go out to those whose homes, businesses or simple faith in their neighbours, have been damaged by these violent and criminal events.

Many of us from across the region held our collective breathes on Tuesday, hoping that would not be our fate.

But we did more than hope of course. We spoke to those we knew –  friends and families, kids and parents, community leaders, councillors, police, journalists…

Across facebook and twitter we reached out to each other, determined that in the North East people should be able to sleep safely.

That our streets were calm is a matter for great pride, though not for complacency.

As a region we face huge challenges. These are difficult economic times and we have lost our regional economic champion, the regional development agency, 1NE.

Government spending cuts are  threatening many in work and making it much harder for our young people to find employment or gain an education.

Our region is home to some of the poorest communities in the country. But it is also home to some of the strongest.

It is that sense of community which brought us through Tuesday.

We need to understand the underlying reasons for the riots, and that may take time.

We need to ensure that the police have the resources they need and our young people a positive vision of a sustainable future, and that may  not happen immediately.

But I do know that it is our sense of community, which survived the terrible times of the eighties, which will help us meet the challenges we face now.

All the best

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