‘IT will be the biggest event taking place in England in 2018.’ That was the claim made in the national media at the start of the year when details about the Great Exhibition of the North began to emerge.

Since then, communications between exhibition organisers and the people across the region have been disappointing. Until you read the double page feature in today’s Echo, did you know much about it?

Persuading people from across the North to attend summer events has become a fiercely competitive business. You are up against must-see attractions such as the latest version of the Kynren spectacular at Auckland Castle, Tall Ships at Sunderland, Durham Brass, myriad food festivals and country shows, the Miners’ Gala, and a vast programme of outdoor music festivals such as those at Scarborough Open Air Theatre, Deer Shed, Darlington Arena, Hardwick Live and across Tyne and Wear. Anyone thinking that this is a case of bill it and they will come is in for a rude awakening, but, apart from the odd press release, the Great Exhibition of the North has been strangely quiet.

Residents’ tickets for Tynesiders to attend the opening ceremony sold out within an hour. It’s all well and good for people in Newcastle and Gateshead to be excited about an event which will be taking place on their doorsteps, but if the Great Exhibition is to be something for people across the whole of the North to feel part of then its reach needs to extend to County Durham, Tees Valley, North Yorkshire and beyond.