LABOUR leader Ed Miliband has warned scrapping One North East will make it harder to develop the Vaux site.
Mr Miliband, who was in the North East for a regional Shadow Cabinet meeting, said the Coalition Government’s scrapping of the regional development agency would make it harder to regenerate areas such as Wearside.
“What I’m worried about is regional development agencies, and I saw what a difference One North East (One) made,” he said.
Mr Miliband said Sunderland’s three Labour MPs would undoubtedly do their bit to help development take place on the derelict former brewery site, a key development area seen as vital to the city’s future prosperity.
He said the region was in need of regeneration, but required an organisation such as One North East to help make it happen.
The Opposition Leader also praised his brother, South Shields MP David Miliband – whom he defeated by a narrow margin in the Labour leadership election – on his appointment as non-executive vice-chairman of Sunderland AFC.
“He’ll do a fantastic job for you,” he said, adding: “Niall Quinn’s a great guy.”
Mr Miliband was speaking to the Echo at the The Sage centre in Gateshead, where he held a public question and answer session yesterday with delegates from across the region, as his party regroups and redesigns its policies after Labour’s General Election defeat.
He told the audience: “This is the first time the Shadow Cabinet have met outside London since the General Election. We are a party that lost the election and I think it’s right we come out and talk to you.”
Mr Miliband spoke out again against the cuts and said the best way to tackle the deficit was not to “kick away the ladders” but keep people working and get more people into work.
He repeated criticism about scrapping the educational maintenance allowance and the “trebling” of university tuition fees, and said Britain was “going backwards” with the next generation finding it harder than the last.
Sunderland Conservatives’s leader Tony Morrissey had earlier criticised Mr Miliband and his colleagues, saying they had “a cheek coming up here” claiming Labour would do better for the North East than the Coalition after Tony Blair and Gordon Brown had only paid “lip service” to the region.
“Despite Labour’s investment in Sunderland it hasn’t improved over the last 13 years as much as it should have,” he said.
Coun Morrissey added that the gap between rich and poor had got bigger under Labour, and pointed to the Coalition’s Regional Growth Fund to encourage private investment, enterprise and job creation, and National Insurance breaks to encourage some employers to take on staff as ways the Government was making positive changes.