A NORTH-East peer today urged people to shrug off doom-and-gloom about the economy - and recognise that the region is firmly on the up.

Lord Bates, the former Conservative MP for Langbaurgh, Teesside, delivered an upbeat message as he led a debate on the North-East's economy in the House of Lords.

The peer, who lives in Durham City, urged people to embrace good news, including that:

Loading article content

  • Virgin Money, after buying Northern Rock, had saved 2,000 jobs in the region and restored confidence - with 1.2m new accounts opened.
  • Nissan's car plant in Washington, near Sunderland, was poised to become will soon become the first UK factory to produce more than 500,000 cars per year.
  • The £4.5bn Hitachi train-assembling plant, earmarked for Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, would create 730 skilled jobs - with a further 200 workers needed to build the test track and the plant itself.
  • The Teesside Blast Furnace had re-opened with 1,700 jobs under the ownership of SSI - with a £1.6bn investment.
  • Exports from the North-East were at record levels in the year to June 2012 at £14bn - up 7.8 per cent on the previous year.
  • More people were employed than at any time since October 2008 - with unemployment down 23.1 per cent in the past year.

Lord Bates said: "The people of the North-East have always been optimistic by instinct - to follow any of our football teams it is seems a mandatory requirement.

"But my criticism is that in the North-East we have always placed too much confidence in governments of all persuasions to solve our problems and had too little confidence in our own ability to shape our own destiny."

However, Lord Bates suggested the Government needed to do more than simply promise ultra-fast broadband to Newcastle, as one of many 'super-connected cities'.

He added: "Gateshead, Sunderland, Durham, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton and Darlington could all be added in for the price of a few yards of High Speed Rail line."