Citizens Assembly South Tyneside (CAST) is putting forward this draft People’s Manifesto, which is the result of several Zoom consultations and an online survey held in the summer of 2020, for discussion and amendment by the community as a whole.
CAST believes that we need a better future for South Tyneside. The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed in the sharpest way a variety of issues and problems that need tackling as soon as possible.
These range from the quality and commitment of council leadership, the indifference of NHS bureaucrats to the desire of communities for comprehensive locally-accessible health care, town planning processes that favour commercial rather than social interests to a public transport system that is run down and expensive to use.
Of course, South Tyneside’s challenges cannot be separated from national policies. It is a fact that even by official standards, our borough is one of the poorest in England. Last year, South Tyneside was ranked 26th out of 317 local authorities across the country in terms of social deprivation. That is five places worse off than in 2015, when it was in 31st place. During that time, the central government grants to the local council were slashed by over 50%.
South Tyneside is listed as having one of the highest numbers of children living on the breadline, with 26.7% currently in income deprived households. Of the overall population, 20.6% of residents are living in an income deprived household, with 17.2% of working-age adults in employment deprivation.
Our draft manifesto doesn’t claim to have all the answers. But it does offer a way forward. Working with other Assemblies and communities around the region and the country, we can move forward together.