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The cabinet comes to North East
Housing Minister John Healey in Chilton with Phil Wilson
Housing Minister John Healey in Chilton with Phil Wilson

The North East became a temporary home for the Government's cabinet this week when it met at Durham Johnston School in Durham.

It resulted in a flurry of ministerial visits to schools, factories and housing estates across the area.

BBC Tees reporter Jonathan Kearsley followed the day's events...

Ministerial visits

It started on a chilly morning in Chilton where Housing Minister John Healey paid a visit to see first hand how a scheme designed to protect tenants and eradicate bad landlords was working. He was met by Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson and Durham Unitary Authority leader Simon Henig and said:

"There's been big problems in the last couple of decades. Private landlords have taken over a lot of homes and I have met local councillors and the local MP Phil Wilson, who are all pulling together to try and make the area better in the future."

Tees Valley Metro

The Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper also had an early start to her day when she visited Hartlepool, where she was told the Future Jobs Fund would help bring in jobs for the Tall Ships event in August.

The Secretary of State for Wales toured Stockton Riverside Further Education College to see how 15,000 full and part-time students are taught.

Lord Adonis - the Transport Secretary, visited Darlington to talk about proposals for a metro system in a network called the Tees Valley Metro.

While the Home Secretary Alan Johnson was at Middlesbrough Police station, meeting people involved in a pilot, aimed at reducing alcohol related crime.

Alistair Darling in Spennymoor's Thorn Lighting factory
Alistair Darling visited Spennymoor's Thorn Lighting factory

The Chancellor Alistair Darling visited Spennymoor to tour the Thorn Lighting factory - voted Best Factory of the Year in 2009.

It's a company which has bucked the trend during the recession employing 550 staff on site and turning over around £200 million a year, making one light every three seconds.

'New jobs through grants'

There was no major announcement by the Chancellor, just a tour of the site where he said measures taken to help businesses were proving successful:

"I think it's very important to help people in what has been a very severe downturn.

"In addition to that of course if we take the motoring industry and the scrappage scheme that has actually made a big, big difference to the firms and they have been able to step up their production.

"We could also help trying to create jobs in the future, new jobs through grants to make sure we can get all the advantages we possibly can. It's important we keep building jobs in the North East.

The Tories said Gordon Brown had been holding the meetings in the North East to fund political activity, but the Chancellor refuted that claim:

"I think it's a good idea the cabinet should meet in different parts of the country.

"I was here just a few weeks ago, like many of my colleagues I'm in the North East quite a lot.

"But actually having the focus of the cabinet meeting here, talking to people in the North East.

"There's a lot to be said for getting out of London, especially parts of the country that do have challenges, with government assistance, without government help.

"I believe we have a huge role to play, the cabinet is just one part of that."




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