Tony Blair is on Tyneside to visit a sport complex in Gosforth which has benefitted his from foundation.
He met with volunteer coaches at Newcastle Cricket Centre.
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A decision will be announced on the fate of three GP surgeries in Hartlepool later.
The UK only managed to rank 20th on the World Economic Forum's (WEF) index of nations - a slide from 9th position in 2006.
"Last season is fading from view in the rear-view mirror with bright skies ahead for the rest of the season."