October has been a busy month, both for the Council and the country as a whole. The cost-of-living crisis has been compounded by national political uncertainty.
I know that, sadly, the impact of national policy uncertainty has had a devastating effect for many of you. Those with mortgages may have seen interest rates rise and the removal of the energy cap from April will be creating additional anxiety.
With additional difficulties in everyday life, please be reassured that, together with our partners, we are doing all we can to support you.
When I wrote last month, I highlighted our plans to hold a cost-of-living summit. I am glad to say it was a huge success with 28 organisations coming together to see how best to respond to the crisis collectively. Since then, almost 50 Warm Spaces have been opened in places such as community centres, churches, Council buildings and charities where people can attend and take part in activities.
We will soon also be launching a cost-of-living directory which will highlight the wealth of support services available, ranging from food banks and debt and energy efficiency advice to subsidised travel. You can find out more at www.southtyneside.gov.uk/costofliving
These measures are just two of the ways in which we are offering targeted support to make things fairer and help you live healthier, happier, and fulfilled lives. Our new 20-year vision launched this month seeks to do this by identifying clear priorities which can make the most positive impact on your lives. The development of our Vision is the result of intensive engagement with thousands of our residents, businesses, and partners. It puts you, our local residents, at its heart.
Coproduction and engagement have been the foundation to development of our joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy and our new Adult Social Care Strategy as well as the 20-year vision for the borough.
We have an ongoing conversation around a masterplan for South Shields and I encourage you to get involved at www.ourconversation.co.uk with the same exercise planned for Jarrow and Hebburn in the future.
As the clocks have now gone back, I am sure I am not alone in looking forward to the wealth of entertainment as we start the countdown to Christmas. Despite the struggles it is important that we can spread some festive cheer and provide free displays and activities right across the borough for families to enjoy. Ahead of Christmas, our hugely popular organised fireworks display returns to South Shields seafront, giving families some fantastic, free entertainment in a safe environment.
And, of course, I cannot fail to mention our own shining star, Ray Spencer, who this month received the Freedom of the Borough in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the cultural and civic life of South Tyneside. The award, the most prestigious civic awards that a local authority can bestow on any individual or organisation, is a token of our immense gratitude and admiration for Ray, who has brought so much joy to generations of South Tyneside residents.
Councillor Tracey Dixon
Leader of South Tyneside Council