Dr John Appleby, Liberal Democrat candidate for the North of Tyne Mayoral election explains why he’s standing in May.
We live in one of the most centralised countries in the developed world – too much power over decisions and funding is located in London. Most major countries – Germany, France, US – have significant regional structures, but in the UK the powers of Local Authorities are limited and have been reduced, especially in education. Liberal Democrats strongly argue that decisions should be made by those most affected.
For this reason, I welcome the new Authority and look forward to being a voice for the whole of Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland, though the ‘North of Tyne’ name neglects Hexham and surroundings south of the Tyne!
However, until the ‘South of Tyne’ authorities join in, which we hope will be soon, the powers of this new Authority will be limited, not even including much on Transport.
As a critical friend of Europe, I believe we should be an active participant in vital decisions, especially on the Environment. By now, the major decisions about Brexit should have been, but aren’t, finalised – this will be the biggest factor affecting the North of Tyne over the next five years, including the major social divisions and bitterness that contributed to the vote and which have worsened since.
Therefore, the principal roles of the new Mayor will be:
- To bring people together, building a consensus about priorities for development, prosperity, social policy and well-being;
- To be a voice for the North of Tyne area nationally and internationally, lobbying for a better devolution settlement and better funding, and re-building trust with international partners and investors;
- To use the funding and powers provided to promote projects and activities that will support good jobs, sustainable housing and transport, and Environmental action for the sake of our children and grandchildren.
John Appleby has lived in the North-East for over thirty years, and now lives in Whitley Bay – great for the beach, public transport (including car-club cars), cycling and community. He was Head of Mechanical Engineering at Newcastle University for fourteen years, and continues as a popular teacher, concerned with young people, their well-being and future employment. He has experience of managing people (1000 staff and students), strategy, relations with industry and finance (a £14M budget), is an excellent communicator, and likes to build trust and ‘creative compromise’ through plain-speaking, honesty about what’s possible, and seeking advice to find best solutions. He won’t promise things that can’t be done.
John’s wider experience includes being a charity trustee, school governor, trade union branch president, leading a ceilidh band for charity events, and serving on local and national church committees (including ethical issues such as gambling, medicine, homelessness, racism).
A vote for John Appleby is a vote for experience, plain-speaking, realism, for a critical friend of Europe, and for a desire to find workable solutions and which involve everyone as far as possible.