Labour plans to ‘return council jobs and services back to the county market towns’ unveiled in 2013 could be reversed if Morpeth Conservative councillor David Bawn has his way. In an email exchange with County Council and Labour group leader Grant Davey, Cllr Bawn indicated that the Conservative party would seek to reverse the move of jobs and services from County Hall in Morpeth back to market towns like Alnwick, Berwick, Hexham, Cramlington, Blyth, Ashington, Newbiggin, Bedlington and Prudhoe. Morpeth itself would also retain more than 150 jobs and would expand service access in line with the other market towns. Morpeth Conservatives led by Cllr Bawn have already rejected over £50m of potential investment in a new school and leisure centre complex on the County Hall site.
The Labour administration say that would see over a thousand jobs lost to the market towns and the ‘re-centralisation’ of over 30 services in Morpeth at an estimated cost to the tax payer of over £15m if Northumberland’s Conservative group had their way. Labour’s move out of County Hall was predicted to generate new economic opportunities in the market towns and they argue that the council must change given the massive cuts of over 80% to the council’s budget imposed by the Conservative government. The cuts mean that Northumberland residents will get 10 times less than neighbours in Tyne and Wear from the government. The Conservative led County Council Network highlighted residents in Northumberland would receive just £6.85 per head from the Conservative government while residents in metropolitan areas would receive a whopping £66.82.
They’re pointing out that Conservative group leader Peter Jackson has accepted the independent Value for Money assessment by Ernst Young and has welcomed the initiatives economic boost to the market towns across the whole county. Cllr Jackson recently called for all jobs in County Hall to be transferred to each market town with the exception of Ashington. Labour say the Conservative position on the Market Town Initiative shows that they’re split – Cllr Bawn says they would scrap (review) the plans and overturn any contracts signed while Cllr Jackson says that Labour should go further and empty County Hall in favour of the market towns. Cllr Jackson also backed the independent Ernst Young report which backed the value for money scheme.
Grant Davey, leader of the council and the Labour group said
“Not content with trying to set community against community in Northumberland for the last 3 years now Northumberland Conservatives are split on our Market Towns Initiative.
David Bawn is now completely split from his leadership who accepted a report from the Government appointed auditors for Northumberland Ernst-Young that the proposal to move and centre the Council in a much smaller facility in Ashington would assist the regeneration of one of Britain’s most deprived areas, demonstrate Value for Money to Northumberland Council Tax payers and stimulate our market town economies.
David Bawn smoke and mirrors attack on the Councils Market Towns Initiative will ensure that any future Tory administration in Northumberland would change Labours balanced economy plans and ensure Council jobs and investment disappeared faster than Usain Bolt. The Tory policy of ‘say no to everything’ has gone into overdrive and residents are entitled to ask them to explain how they would deal with their government’s swingeing cuts of over 80% to the council’s budget?
Our policy has been three years in the making, we’ve demonstrated the value for money benefit to tax payers and we want to see over a thousand jobs and over 30 services returned to our market towns because we think that would be more accessible for our residents and boost the economies of the towns. Cllr Bawn has let the cat out of the bag when he says that his party will waste all of the hard work making sure that this policy would benefit Northumberland and scrap 3 years work just because he wants to ‘re-centralise’ services in Morpeth.
His Leader who supports Labours long term economic plans needs to come clean and state whether he now agrees with his Cllr’s pledge to block jobs and services in the North, West and South East or whether he disagrees with Cllr Bawn’s economically illiterate stance”?