December 2023

Posted by: Councillor Tracey Dixon on 20 December 2023 15:30

Councillor Tracey Dixon, Leader of South Tyneside Council
Councillor Tracey Dixon, Leader of South Tyneside Council

As we approach the end of another year, I can certainly say that 2023 has not been without its challenges but a great deal has been achieved. We have seen two renewable energy schemes come online which will dramatically cut our carbon emissions, work has started on new children's homes, we are moving forward with our plans for new specialist accommodation for adults with care needs and we have continued to support people through the cost-of-living crisis. We have delivered major infrastructure projects and brought in millions in additional funding to make our dreams a reality. 

December has been a busy month. Planning approval was granted for the multi-million-pound college campus and student accommodation which is set to transform South Shields town centre.

The plans will see South Tyneside College and South Shields Marine School relocating from their current Westoe site into the heart of the town centre. More than 80 per cent of you agree with this move which will bring additional footfall and a new sense of vitality to the area and help existing businesses to thrive. Equally importantly, the creation of a modern campus which is fit for the future will give our young people the skills they need to access jobs in leading industries such as the green economy.

The plans were given a significant boost last month when we were awarded £20m from the third round of the Levelling Up Fund to support the plans to revitalise South Shields town centre and riverside. The college was also successful in its bid for £20m from the Department for Education's FE Capital Transformation Fund.

Elsewhere in the Borough, the Monkton Terrace footbridges in Jarrow are now fully re-open to the public following major refurbishment works. The bridges were closed in 2021 after safety concerns were raised about the condition of the parapets during routine safety inspections. The work carried out will ensure the long-term safety of this route which is well-used by those visiting Jarrow Shopping Centre, going to nearby schools and using local services.

Work is also underway to improve walking and cycling routes along the coast. The £2million scheme will see the existing footpath along the Coast Road (A183) widened to at least four metres to accommodate two lanes - one for pedestrians and one for cyclists. The project is being delivered in three phases, starting with improvements on the stretch of the A183 at Marsden Bay and extending northwards towards Redwell Bank and along the Leas to the New Crown roundabout.

The upgrade to the coastal cycling network will not only help us to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists but also supports our plans to get more people involved in sustainable travel and improve their health and wellbeing. Coming just months after the Coast Road realignment scheme was completed at Marsden, the project also contributes to our wider climate change efforts in reducing our impact on the planet.

On the subject of green initiatives, I was delighted to see that the largest ever electric vehicle charger rollout in the North of England has been announced with up to 2,000 new charge points to be installed across the Borough.

A partnership with Connected Kerb - one of the UK's leading electric vehicle charging infrastructure providers - will see all of the old Legacy charge point units replaced with Connected Kerb's on-street chargers, with the addition of the new charging points. This will support our efforts to reduce carbon emissions and become carbon neutral by 2030.

I was thrilled that we received a Commendation of Excellence in the Outstanding Achievement of the Year category at the National Healthy Housing Awards 2023 for a scheme which helps people to live independently in their own homes. The 'See and Solve' service involves a trained assessor going out to visit people who may need help to live safely and independently in their home.

They take basic equipment such as grab rails and bathing equipment and install them on the same day. Since See and Solve was introduced, the number of people waiting to see an occupational therapist has reduced from almost 500 to 55 while waiting times have been slashed from eight months to eight weeks.

With the Christmas school holidays now upon us, I know many of you will be delighted that we are once again running the free Holiday Activities and Food progamme. Organised in conjunction with our partners, the events will run from Tuesday 2 January to Sunday 7 January, and offer children between the ages of five and 16 on benefit-related free school meals the chance to enjoy a range of physical and creative activities as well as a nutritious meal each day.

Young people up to the age of 18, with additional needs, are also eligible, if claiming free school meals. In addition, we are also providing £10 food vouchers to families whose children receive free school meals for each week of the holidays. I know those of you who were already struggling have been hit hardest by increases in the cost of living so we hope these activities will offer some relief. Places for the activities are now open and must be booked in advance on Eventbrite.

In the New Year South Tyneside Homes tenants and leaseholders will have the opportunity to share their views on bringing the organisation back under direct council control. The move follows an independent review of council housing and is aimed at ensuring the best outcome for our residents.

Housing is about far more than bricks and mortar, it's a gateway to many other services and it's crucial that we adopt an holistic approach to provide more effective prevention, intervention and support for residents. As a responsible landlord we are keen to hear your views and will start a six-week consultation period with tenants and leaseholders in the New Year.

As this year draws to a close it is time to reflect on what a busy, challenging yet rewarding year it has been for South Tyneside. A great deal has been achieved and there is so much more to look forward to in the year ahead. Not only will we start to see transformational change in South Shields town centre, we will be looking forward to developing a masterplan for Hebburn town centre and starting to get residents' views for Jarrow.

Already 2024 looks to be an exciting time for our Borough so join us on our ongoing journey to make South Tyneside a place where people enjoy happy, healthy and fulfilled lives. Ahead of that, I'd like to wish you all a relaxing and happy Christmas. I'd like to thank everyone who will be working throughout the festive period providing services we all rely on from emergency services to those working in retail and hospitality. To find out about Council services over the festive period, visit

Councillor Tracey Dixon
Leader of South Tyneside Council

Last modified: 20 December 2023 15:36