THERE were many reasons why the voters in the former red wall areas, like the North East, fell under Boris Johnson’s spell at the 2019 election, but the promise to level up our forgotten places was a main one.

Levelling up sounded attractive because it didn’t talk down the area. In fact, it accepted that people had pride in their area, that they wanted to stay in their area, and the Government agreed to help them make their area even better.

Two-and-a-half years in and levelling up is still a very vague concept with hazy goals, but to prove that it is working, any and every bit of new investment is hailed as another example of levelling up in action.

It is really good to see Durham, which is very much on the Conservatives’ wavelength these days, making such strong bids to a levelling up fund. If successful, these valuable projects will make real improvements to local communities.

The bids show the strengths and the weaknesses of levelling up. The strength is that this Government policy can get cash directly into places like Newton Aycliffe and Tow Law that have never previously felt like they were at the top of anyone’s priorities.

The weakness is that there is no overall strategy to what looks like a piecemeal approach. A new road here and a family attraction there is not going to do much towards really important overarching goals such as levelling up life expectancy or lowering child poverty or giving new skills to all youngsters.

It also shows just how much there is to do in every corner, but it is very welcome that a start is being made in a few fortunate places.