City rivalries: how Newcastle became a 'poster child' for the new north

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Newcastle’s collaborative, ‘future thinking’ regeneration scheme has revived a city that was on its knees after the devastation of 1980s deindustrialisation. But what about near-neighbour Sunderland? Read here to compare its fortunes

It comes as no surprise to the Geordies that Newcastle is rated one the UK’s best performing cities. I left in 1990 when the city (and most of the north-east) was on its knees, but the city I see on my visits home is revived, emerging as a poster child for the new north. A recent Centre for Cities report ranked Newcastle eighth among the UK’s largest cities in terms of jobs growth – attracting nearly 30,000 new jobs between 2004 and 2013 (an 8% increase), and belying the report’s overall message of a widening north-south divide.

The revived Quayside is testament to the city’s determination to rebuild itself after the devastation of 1980s deindustrialisation. Building on the work of neighbouring Gateshead in promoting its Garden Festival, Sage culture centre and Millennium Bridge, Newcastle published Going for Growth, an ambitious, city-wide regeneration strategy, back in 2000. Seeking to position itself as a competitive, cohesive and cosmopolitan city of international significance, it built partnerships with citizens, communities, companies and government – and even bid to become European City of Culture, achieving a level of exposure overseas despite losing out to Liverpool.

To many north-easterners, this part of the world has been ignored for so long that self-reliance is bred into the psyche

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