THE Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government paid a visit to Darlington’s high street to speak to independent traders about the future of the town and its economy.

As the last stop on a tour of the North-East, James Brokenshire spent the afternoon of Wednesday September 26 in Darlington town centre amongst local traders and councillors.

The Communities Secretary was told of the town’s recent development plans and given a tour of its high street and around its indoor market.

Inside the market he spoke to independent stallholders such as P A Liddle & Sons Fish Merchants, Sew Fabrics and The Sweet Shop about being a trader in Darlington.

Mr Brokenshire said: “I came here to talk to some of the local traders and stallholders to hear their experiences of running a business, and the steps that we need to consider further on how we can support town centres, our shops and high streets.

“It’s interesting to see the office development down the road from here that I hope will help bring people in and ensure that they are spending money here and supporting these great local businesses.

“It’s been great for me to hear from so many of the stallholders, and how we see strong vibrant high streets and great towns as places to live, work, shop and do business.”

Earlier in the day the politician was in Middlesbrough where he visited the women’s refuge charity, Harbour, and spoke to staff and volunteers about their work in the community there.

He then met with the chief executive of 13 Housing Group, in Middlesbrough, and the Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, to talk about potential social housing developments in the area.

Mr Brokenshire added: “In my role, in seeing that we actually build the homes our country needs, I know that a large part of that will come from housing associations like 13.

“By looking at where they can add value and ensuring that we’re looking at all types of tenure, we can see that people have got the homes they need and how that itself, by looking at our towns, getting the housing built more locally, supports the local economy.”

The previous day saw Mr Brokenshire in Newcastle City Centre. He finished his North-East tour by getting the train south from Darlington’s station.