It feels like we're well into autumn now as the nights grow darker and the weather changes, but I still wanted to take a minute to reflect on what a great summer we had - despite the rain!
Another fantastic season of summer events and of course the Great North Run at the start of September. I don't think any of us expected the biblical rain that came that day or the series of events that unfolded, and I don't think any scenario planning could have anticipated them, but it is testament to the amazing teams we have across the council and our partners that meant we were still able to get people home safely.
As home of the Great North Run finish line, the event brings so much to the borough, and we've been working behind the scenes to really make the most of the weekend. This year we had hundreds of children taking part in the first 'Fit for the Finish' event and we were delighted to host Sir Mo Farrah as part of that - I think we even had the Mayor doing the Mobot!
I was also lucky enough to see Sir Mo cast his footprints in the floor of South Shields interchange. It will act as a permanent monument of his legacy
So, from extreme highs to sombre lows, I must also mention our second Anti-Poverty Summit. It was such a fantastic event but such a sobering reminder of the challenges that many of our communities are facing.
Almost 100 delegates attended, and the importance of encouraging people to be 'winter-ready' was a key theme.
To that end we agreed to produce an 'aide memoire' prompting questions that frontline workers, volunteers, and key organisations can ask when working with people needing support - be that around benefits, housing, vaccines, wider healthcare, social connectedness, and emotional wellbeing. There was a fantastic response to this at the Summit, with organisations signing up to use the card in their daily work.
That being said, we will continue to hold the Government to account, highlighting the truth around the scale and impact of poverty in South Tyneside and call for the resources that local authorities and particularly those in the voluntary sector need to be able to continue to provide support for those in need.
September also marked the launch of Foster with North East, a regional approach to fostering. We know that children achieve more when part of a loving family. If not living in a safe, warm, and loving birth family, a foster family is in their best interests. We have an amazing network of foster carers in South Tyneside but unfortunately, we simply do not have enough.
So, from supporting our younger people to supporting our ageing population. We've listened to our older people, and they've told us they would prefer to live well independently, rather than go into residential care. We've committed to providing extra care facilities which will allow older adults with support needs to continue to live right at the heart of our communities, so I was pleased to see that a brand-new adult social care housing development, in Hebburn town centre, was given the go ahead this month. One in five of our residents are aged over 65 and this £26 million development, which will be delivered by Karbon Homes in partnership with the Council, will see 95 affordable homes built on the site behind Hebburn Central, the scheme has 20 two-bed and 75 one-bed apartments, 17 of which will be specialist dementia apartments.
As I mentioned last month designs are also being drawn up for a second facility on the site of the former Chuter Ede School and Community Association.
I was also delighted to see progress on the building of 10 more council homes at Hindmarch Drive, Boldon, providing a mix of two-bedroomed houses, apartments, and bungalows. Much of the exterior build is now complete, with the roofs on the bungalows being tiled and solar panels about to be installed.
We've also been working with the Port to create a new super-efficient planning process to make it easier for our current businesses at the Port to develop and grow and enhance our ability to attract new businesses looking to come to South Tyneside.
The opportunities presented by the rapidly expanding offshore wind sector are immeasurable and given our unique location to the Dogger Bank project, we're in prime position to take advantage.
We are committed to creating job opportunities and providing the people of our borough with sustainable, exciting careers. Establishing this Protocol with the Port is a demonstration to inward investors that we're open for business.
Councillor Tracey Dixon
Leader of South Tyneside Council