SUNDERLAND and South Tyneside must start “working together” to ensure both areas prosper in the future, Nick Clegg told the Echo.
The Deputy Prime Minster believes the two authorities, who were yesterday awarded £87.5million City Deal status, must co-operate to ensure the region “stands on its own two feet”.
Mr Clegg was speaking at Nissan after announcing a package of measures that will see the new bridge built across the Wear, a manufacturing park built next to the A19 and cash freed up for work on the Vaux site.
It is hoped the deal will create almost 9,000 jobs and cement Sunderland as the UK capital of car manufacturing. But Mr Clegg said it was vital that Sunderland worked with its neighbour – and the other North East councils – to ensure they became masters of their own destiny.
He said: “It’s important Sunderland and South Tyneside have a more balanced economy and that is what this deal is working towards.
“These are areas that have been through a lot of difficulties over the last few years.
“I’m aware there are rivalries that exist between places but we must learn to connect to create something positive for the future.”
Mr Clegg took a tour of Nissan before taking part in a Q&A session with a group of young apprentices from the company.
He said the creation of the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP), to the west of the A19 and across the borders of Sunderland and South Tyneside, was something some of the region’s biggest companies including Rolls-Royce, TRW Automotive and Liebherr have all been asking for.
Mr Clegg added that the park would play a key role in attracting more companies in the Nissan supply chain, bringing in an estimated £295million in investment.
He said: “The City Deal is about making sure this part of the region is able to economically diversify and stand on its own two feet and not be cheapened by having to go to Whitehall for handouts.”
The advanced manufacturing park is expected to be completed by 2027, creating 5,200 new manufacturing jobs, with more than 500 new jobs created every year from 2018.
A further 3,700 jobs will be created by 2031 for the Vaux site. Work on the new bridge is expected to be completed by November 2017.