Councillor Paul Watson became Leader of the Council in May 2008, after previously serving as Deputy Leader since May 2006.

Now, through his blog, he aims to communicate directly with you to give an insight into what is happening in Sunderland as well as the issues and challenges that face the city. With so much going on in the city, he wants to keep you informed about how much work the council is doing but also wants to hear from you.

This is your chance to have your say so please feel free to get in touch.

Welcome to my blog.

In my first blog of 2015, I'm pleased to say it's been a really successful and eventful start to the year for the city and already, it feels like 2014 was such a long time ago!

Last week I was delighted to be at the opening of car parts manufacturer, Calsonic Kansei's fourth facility in the city. This is the result of the investment of £800,000 by the company to establish a 100,000 square foot warehousing building at Doxford International.

The company which supplies electronic components to Nissan, Renault and Jaguar Land Rover, has invested a total of £4.5 million in Sunderland over the past year, making it a really important company and employer in the city.

It is fantastic to continue working in partnership with the likes of Calsonic Kansei to maximise every opportunity for growth as Nissan and our automotive sector continue to expand, further cementing the city's reputation as a thriving hub for automotive and advanced manufacturing.

As I've said before, what is most important, is that we do everything we can to ensure local people benefit from these developments and are supported to access the job opportunities available, by meeting employer needs - for example having the right skills and being able to travel to work easily.

Putting these conditions in place and helping people overcome any barriers to work that they face, is fundamental to our work on developing the next Economic Masterplan for the city and all of the projects such as creating the International Advanced Manufacturing Park, that are either underway or in the pipeline.

And on this note, it is wonderful to be welcoming HRH The Prince of Wales to Sunderland this week, who as well as paying a visit to the National Citizen Service at the Bethany City Church, is going to be visiting Nissan. There, he will see how the Leaf electric vehicle is built and also the work of the company's Global Training Centre which creates career opportunities for young people.

It is always an honour to receive a visit from a member of the Royal Family and I'm sure Prince Charles will be incredibly impressed by the skill and enthusiasm demonstrated by local people, when he meets pupils from two of the city's schools and a group of 'Industrial Cadets'.

Cllr Paul Watson