BUSINESS secretary Kwasi Kwarteng got a taste of County Durham beer, holding up an award-winning pub and brewery as the kind of business vital to the country’s recovery from Covid.

Mr Kwarteng, was accompanied by North West Durham MP Richard Holden, when he visited the Consett Ale Works, based at the town’s Grey Horse on Wednesday. He was met by owner Jeff Hind, landlords David and Sandra Wilkinson and brewer Ian Jackson.

After pulling a pint of Consett Stout and sampling a number of ales, he said: “I’ve been extremely impressed with everything here. I think it’s s great example of a strong local business with huge character.

The Northern Echo:

“I think it’s got a unique offer and I think that’s why I can imagine people coming here specifically to come to the this pub.

“It seems like a destination point – great character, great history and very friendly staff.

He added: “I think it’s vitally important coming out of Covid a business like this does well, because it’s all about confidence. It's about people coming together, being able to socialise and get back to a sort of normal life.

“And I think, absolutely at the centre of any recovery, is a strong good local pub.”

Addressing the question of the Government’s “levelling up” drive he said: “I think that the opportunity here in the North-East generally and bits of the North-West is generational.

The Northern Echo:

“I speak to people like Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchem. We have landed investment GE Renewable Energy, we’ve landed Smulders, who have invested in Newcastle, Nissan in Sunderland – and that is just in the last three months.

“So literally thousands of jobs have been created, because they can see there is a real spread of enterprise here. And there is a very mobilised, motivated and talented workforce and lots of strong local pride.

“I think all we needed really was belief and obviously the capital and investment can flow into an area, where there is somebody the Government is leading into.

“I think Richard (Holden) is doing great job representing North West Durham in parliament and I think working together with local leaders like Ben and Richard, the Government can really drive a very strong agenda.”The Northern Echo:

Mr Kwarteng said infrastructure is a key part of what the Government is trying to offer, citing plans to locate the UK National Infrastructure Bank in Leeds.

He said: “ I know it’s far from here but it’s not in London and we are really focused on delivering things like HS2, because we recognise we need to invest more in infrastructure.

“I make a broader point. I love economic history and everything about the industrial Revolution.

“It seems to me the opportunity we have post-Covid, with the net zero agenda and with the levelling up agenda is one of the most exciting economic opportunities for Britain in 50 to 60 years – and we have got to get it right.

“We’ve got to keep focused on that and believe in ourselves. Everywhere I go in the North East I see a spread of enterprise an engagement with trying to make things happen.

“It’s really encouraging.”


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