Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Boy Wonder and the conference centre

Newcastle and Gateshead, in partnership with One NorthEast created 1NG as the development company for NewcastleGateshead. It has a heavy weight chair - Lord Falconer, the former Lord Chancellor. In a nutshell, its remit is to produce the economic plan the the NewcastleGateshead "City" area. As the 1NG website explains, "The NewcastleGateshead economic masterplan - 1PLAN - will set out a blueprint for economic development and physical regeneration for NewcastleGateshead." This is all about co-operation across the two authorities and a recognition that by working together, both sides of the River Tyne benefit economically. What's good for Gateshead is good for Newcastle, and visa versa.

The reason this needs to be explained in simple terms is Labour in Newcastle are having considerable difficulties in understanding this. It was announced yesterday that 1NG had identified a site on the Gateshead Quays as being the best location for an international conference centre. The childish response from Labour in Newcastle yesterday was to state:

"It will be a huge missed opportunity for Newcastle to have a prestigious international conference centre across the water. Good on Gateshead for getting their act together and shame on Newcastle for dithering around."

The comment was made by Cllr Nick Forbes, the Boy Wonder of Newcastle politics (the wonder is why on earth Labour ever put up with this loose cannon). It tramples all over the principle of co-operation between the two authorities and suggests that were Newcastle ever to endure Mr Forbes as their City Leader, there would be a shift away from mutual co-operation which would mean the River Tyne becoming more than just a watery divide between the two authorities. His comments also exhibit a level of political immaturity that should worry Labour on Tyneside.

There is a further point to consider. A major reason for the choice of Gateshead Quays as the location is the presence there of the Sage, the great new music hall. This is a magnet for other developments. And why is the Sage in the Gateshead Quays? It wasn't something to do with the rejection by Newcastle City Council of initial proposals to site the building in Newcastle, was it? And when did that happen? Wasn't it when Labour ran Newcastle Council before 2004?

So, to follow the purile rantings of Mr Forbes to their logical conclusion, the "dithering" of Labour in Newcastle is to blame for the proposed location of the Sage not being in the city he himself aspires to lead.


Johnny said...

Jonathan, I came across your blog while searching for info on the convention centre planned for Gateshead. Let me take this opportunity to invite you to a Tyneside urban development forum a few of us on architecture website Skyscrapercity have set up recently.

Here is the link for the Gateshead Convention thread -

while this is the main tyneside forum itself -

Please do check it out as i think you'd be a valuable contributor, and you may recognise a familiar name in lib dem circles!

All the best,

Angela said...

If you are looking for a nice conference center, I like to recommend the conference center at river club. It is attached to a golf course and the prices are very reasonable even though it is located abroad. Visit website online for more information: