TORY PLANS WOULD ‘SCUPPER’ MARKET TOWNS MOVE BY NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY COUNCIL
Conservative motion at Full Council which would halt move to transfer over 1000 jobs and over 30 services to county market towns branded ‘economic vandalism’ by Labour
A Conservative motion designed to halt Northumberland County Council’s move from its Morpeth HQ back to the county’s traditional market towns could see a ‘triple whammy’ of job losses, a £25m missed chance ‘boost’ for market towns and fewer chances to access council services in a more convenient way.
The motion which has massive negative implications for the forthcoming county council budget seeks a deferment of a decision to sell off the County Hall site and has been branded by Labour as ‘playing politics with jobs and the county budget’. Labour are highlighting that the Conservative group on the County Council have failed to submit a single budget since Labour was elected to form an administration in 2013 and has instead used a series of deliberate delaying tactics to stop implementation of policies such as free parking for towns, 1000 affordable homes and returning council jobs and services to market towns.
Labour say that the move from County Hall to a much smaller and more economical new ‘Hub’ in Ashington will free up the plan to transfer over 1000 council jobs and over 30 services back to market towns such as Alnwick, Berwick, Hexham, Cramlington, Blyth, Bedlington, Newbiggin, Prudhoe, Haltwhistle and Morpeth bringing in an estimated £25m boost for town centre economies. The move would generate over £16m of savings which is being used to offset cuts from central government and to underpin investment in children and social care.
Conservative proposals would see that stop and their plan to halt the ‘invest to save’ scheme which is Northumberland Labour’s response to over £200m worth of Conservative government cuts to county residents.
The Conservative motion tabled by millionaire landowner Cllr Peter Jackson comes as Conservative supporter and financier Sir John Hall backed the move to Ashington branding it as the ‘right thing to do after years of deprivation in the town’ in an event in the town (5 Dec 2016 – reopening of Ashington main street).
A Labour group spokesperson said
“The Cons really are seeking to damage the long term economic prospects of Northumberland and this motion is an uncosted and naked attempt to block a move which would see dozens of services and thousands of council jobs returned to the market towns of the county. This is ‘economic vandalism’ and part of their ‘Say No To Everything campaign’. They have no alternative plans apart from vague comments and it’s clear that their elected members who represent market towns must answer the question why are they intent on keeping the current County Hall site in Morpeth while denying other market towns the economic boost of services and jobs? We happen to agree with Sir John Hall who has backed the move to Ashington and a Con Dem coalition which is seemingly intent on wrecking the council finances should think twice before damaging jobs and the economy of the county tomorrow. These blatantly political attempts to stop policies happen are costing tax payers money and we say that Conservatives need to explain how they will deliver services and jobs in the future”.