Changing fortunes of North Shields in the spotlight

Experts came together in North Shields to find out how the fortunes of the town have been turned around.

The Carnegie UK Trust and Newcastle University Institute for Social Renewal, supported by North Tyneside Council, held a special event at the Old Low Light heritage centre, entitled ‘Turning Around Towns in the North East’.

It came about following a recent visit to the town by researchers from Carnegie as part of the Twin Towns project, which has seen North Shields twinned with Merthyr Tydfil.

After their visit, the researchers revealed that North Shields was one of the best examples they had seen where the local authority, business community, education and third sector work together to benefit the whole community.

As a result, Carnegie has hailed the town as a successful case study to share with other towns across the UK.

Rebekah Menzies, Carnegie UK Trust, said: "North Shields is a town with ideas, energy and aspiration to build a bright future.

“Carnegie UK was delighted to revisit the Old Low Light and bring together experts from across North East England to discuss the themes from our international research on Turnaround Towns. 

“'Having a story of place' is one of the key themes from our research. North Shields has a proud heritage and identity, and is forging new stories to ensure it prospers into the future."

North Tyneside’s Elected Mayor Norma Redfearn added: “It was an absolute pleasure to welcome experts from Carnegie, Newcastle University and a number of other organisations to North Shields.

“North Tyneside is a great place to live, work and visit and I am delighted that our joint efforts to breathe new life into North Shields are being recognised as a successful example on the national stage.

“As a council we work with the business community, education and voluntary and community sector for the benefit of the whole community.

“There have been many positive changes in North Shields in recent years - we still have much to do but we are confident of long-term success.”

Also at the event were representatives from North Tyneside, Newcastle, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland councils.

The aim was to share research carried out by the Carnegie UK Trust as part of its ‘Turnaround Towns’ project, which looked at successful case studies from across the United States, Australia and New Zealand, and Europe, of towns that had been transformed.

North Shields has undergone a number of positive changes in recent years, including:

• The continuing regeneration of the Fish Quay 
• The reshaping of Northumberland Park 
• The creation of the heritage hub - the Old Light at Cliffords Fort
• The opening of the Exchange on Howard St
• Improvements to the town centre, such as the creation of the Customer First Centre and the upgrading of the Beacon Centre 
• Regeneration schemes in Riverside, Chirton and Meadow Well
• Improved results at Norham High School
• Significantly increased cruise traffic to the North Shields port

Further improvements are also in the pipeline with proposals to transform vacant offices in Northumberland Square into housing, apartments being built at Smith’s Dock and new businesses regularly opening in the town.

David Bavaird, Chair of North Shields Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said: “We are delighted that Carnegie and Newcastle University decided to hold the important turnaround towns event in North Shields. 

“They chose North Shields following recent visits to the town where they saw first-hand how well the local authority, business community, education and third sector work together for the benefit of our whole community and they were keen to showcase this to a wider audience.”   

Professor Mark Shucksmith, Director of Newcastle University’s Institute for Social Renewal, said: “Working closely with our partners The Carnegie UK Trust we’re aiming to find new ways to improve the lives of people by influencing policy and encouraging innovative practice and partnership work, and the Turnaround Towns project is just one example of this. 

“Earlier this year we also held a joint meeting of fairness commissions from across the UK in Newcastle, and in Gateshead we organised a lively roundtable on fulfilling work. We look forward to continuing to work with colleagues from Carnegie and with residents of the North East in future.”