The Northern Echo is urging Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer to back its campaign for the North East ahead of the upcoming General Election. 

The Prime Minister is set to take on the Labour leader in a matter of weeks as millions head to the polls on July 4. It’s expected to be a crucial election - with a recent YouGov poll suggesting Labour could sweep the North East and win all but one seat. 

It’s been a turbulent few years for households across the region, who have had to face the devastating impact of the Covid pandemic, the struggles of the cost of living crisis, and everything from concerning crime rates to increasing child poverty. 

The Echo has recently campaigned to tackle knife crime after the tragic deaths of several youngsters, urged the Government to step in and save the future of Hitachi, and called for an inquiry into a crisis-hit mental health trust

And as the Conservative and Labour leaders prepare to face off at the first head-to-head TV debate of the election campaign, we are demanding that the next Government commit to dealing with the serious issues plaguing the North East head-on.

Today (Tuesday, June 4) we launch a six-point manifesto covering some of the key things we want politicians to back - whether that’s resolving hardship, securing uncertain jobs, or ripping out the root of devastating knife crime. 

Step in and secure the future of Hitachi 

The Northern Echo: Hitachi, Newton Aycliffe

The livelihoods and jobs of hundreds of people remain on the line at Hitachi after a production gap in orders left the site’s future uncertain. The Echo campaigned to save jobs by extending a vital contract - but months on, Hitachi’s future remains up in the air.

We are calling on the new Government to step in and help plug the gap at the rail manufacturing firm - securing it for future generations. 

Take fast action on knife crime 

The Northern Echo:

Connor Brown, Jack Woodley, Gordon Gault and Tomasz Oleszak. These are just some of the names of North East youngsters who had their lives cruelly taken away due to knife crime. 

Families across the region have been left broken beyond repair after these tragedies struck - some of whom were simply enjoying a trip out to the fair or a night out. 

With Cleveland alone being one of the knife capitals of the UK, we’re asking, what can be done to stop this? It’s up to the next Government to stand up and tackle knife crime once and for all. 

Reduce child poverty

The Northern Echo: Generic image of a child

Poverty and hardship remain a major barrier in the North East, stunting the future opportunities of thousands of promising kids. Recent reports from the North East Child Poverty Commission have even unveiled how the situation is getting worse.

We’re calling on the main political parties to commit to reducing child poverty in the North East - and want them to outline exactly how. 

Save the dental desert and tackle lengthy waiting lists

The Northern Echo: Teesside has been branded a “dental desert” by Labour with only one surgery in the area

The North East, like many other areas across the UK, is facing a dental desert. 

Spiralling waiting lists have left the service "hanging by a thread" - with some people even resorting to “pulling out their own rotting teeth” due to appointment struggles. 

It’s time for the next Government to save dentistry and sort these lengthy waiting lists.

Commit to a statutory public inquiry into the Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Trust (TEWV)

The Northern Echo:

In recent years, mental health trust TEWV has come under fire after bereaved families claimed the care is “not fit for purpose.” 

The trust was previously graded as ‘requiring improvement’ and has seen several inquests into patient deaths and prosecution by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). 

The trust was fined £200k earlier this year after pleading guilty to unsafe care in connection with the deaths of two patients. The Echo is now asking leaders to commit to a statutory public enquiry

Commit to exam mitigations for RAAC-hit County Durham school

The Northern Echo: St Leonard's School in Durham is dealing with asbestos as well as RAAC

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The concrete crisis sent schools across the country into chaos last year after buildings were found to be riddled with crumbling reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC).

St Leonard’s, a catholic secondary school in Durham City, became one of just two secondary schools in England to completely close due to the scandal. 

The Echo is asking parties to commit to exam mitigations for the County Durham school, so students, who were forced to learn online or in temporary classrooms, have a fair chance at their future.