Sunderland MP backs coalfield communities bid

Bridget Phillipson signs the pledge
Bridget Phillipson signs the pledge

Wearside MP Bridget Phillipson has backed a group which aims to help people living in former coalfield areas.

The Houghton and Sunderland South MP signed a dedicated pledge book, which was presented by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, during an event in Westminster.

The pledge, which reads: “I pledge my support to the work of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust in delivering its objectives to make a lasting and positive impact on the employment, skills and health of residents in former mining towns and villages.”

She said: “Communities across Houghton and Sunderland are still suffering from of the closures of the coal mines more than three decades ago. Only 68% of local residents are in full time employment and 18% have no formal qualifications, far higher than the national average of 15%.

“By working alongside the Coalfields Regeneration Trust we are able to address the problems.”

Head of operations (England) for the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Andy Lock said: “The statistics still make for difficult reading but we know if we come together and encourage even more MPs like Bridget to combine resources and give their commitment to the communities, we can continue to tackle the ongoing issues.”

Chief executive of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Gary Ellis, used the Westminster event to make the group’s case for a contribution of £30m to be combined with an investment of £10m from the Coalfields Regeneration Trust to develop new industrial space in former mining areas - aiming to bring an estimated 1,000 jobs to these communities.