IN October last year, the Prime Minister stood up at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, and made the bold pledge to bring to an end the decade-long period of austerity.

At the time, financial experts cast doubt on the possibility of the next spending review marking the official end of austerity, given the fragile nature of the country’s finances.

In today’s edition of The Northern Echo, we lead on Durham’s Labour Police and Crime Commissioner consulting the public on a council tax rise of more than 13 per cent. Ron Hogg says cuts in government funding have left him with no alternative but to offer residents a chance to have their say on paying more, or seeing fewer officers on the beat.

On page 18 we report on donations from Tesco customers in Darlington and Stockton which have allowed two charities to provide almost 17,000 meals to people in need.

Page 20 tells how churches in Durham city are joining forces with the Salvation Army to offer emergency overnight accommodation for the homeless on the coldest evenings. In just seven nights, 33 guests were welcomed.

Taken together, it is clear that those at the sharp end of public sector cutbacks are feeling them as keenly as ever.

And if Theresa May believes a booming private sector will save her pledge, a report published today by the British Chambers of Commerce finds growth in the economy has stagnated. Amid the political wrangling over Brexit, the Prime Minister must not be allowed to forget her promise on public spending.