Monday, 26 February 2018

Tory decisions target spending cuts in Northumberland's most deprived communities

Northumberland Conservatives plan to cut leisure facilities across some of Northumberland’s most deprived areas , have cemented a Tory election promise to slash spending in South East Northumberland and the rural coalfields. Labour have promised to fight the closures. 

They have produced a damning report into the Company Active Northumberland; a company that was started by the last Labour administration in 2014 to help amalgamate the loss making nine companies who had been delivering services on behalf of the former District Councils in Northumberland.

The report shows that Active Northumberland requires to be provided with the £1M per year to support its operations, a sum that was provided by the Councils company ARCH before Northumberland Conservatives also began to break their operations up Labour have stated that the decision to stop the £1m charitable donation from Arch was taken by Peter Jackson's Conservative administration as they plan to scrap Arch too. 

The Conservative Councils report commissioned and forced through Council by them, misses the fact that Active Northumberland under Labour helped deliver the Tour of Britain cycle race twice, brought the Tall Ships to the river Blyth and started the ‘Northumberland Live’ series of events that have increased the popularity of open air music festivals in the County.

Having listed nine facilities primarily in Northumberland’s most deprived areas that may not receive funding from the Conservatives at County Hall, people across the South East and Rural Coalfield are disgusted that no consultation has taken place prior to the closure list being spoken too by Councillor Homer at the budget meeting at County Hall Morpeth on Wednesday 24th January.

Bedlington High School,

Dave Stephens Centre

Druridge Bay Fitness and Community Centre

Hirst Welfare Centre and Nursery

Cramlington School

Newbiggin Sports and Community Centre

Northburn Sports Centre
Pegasus Disabled Riding Centre

Rothbury Pool and Sports centres

Councillor Homer and her team stated that Active Northumberland will make the decision to close facilities on Tuesday 26 February 2018. Labour Councillors reminded her that Active Northumberland is simply a contractor for the Council and the Council must make any decisions to close those facilities and remove services from our communities.

In a BBC Radio Newcastle interview on the 26 February Councillor Jackson blamed the £65M Black Hole in the Council accounts for the need to close centre’s. A black hole that has been created by the Conservatives through making the decisions to scrap ARCH costing millions in broken contracts, to remove the core strategy planning document from examination by Government which will cost over £2m to replace alone, to halt Labour's plans to save £30m in efficiencies, refurbish the ageing County Hall costing over £30m along with running costs and to try and wriggle out of the garden village project at Dissington all of which would have added millions of pounds to the Councils coffers. Instead they want to see people lose services and facilities that are essential to life in the communities that most of Northumberland's residents live in

In Northumberland 13.2% of the population live in the 10% of most deprived wards in England where most of these facilities are centred. !5000 children are living in deprivation. Over 50% of Northumberland's residents live in the South East and rural coalfield part of the county yet the Tory budget has squeezed most cash from these areas. That's not fair. 

Unemployment is much higher than other parts of Northumberland, almost double the national average and well above the North East average.

Since May 2017 Northumberland Conservatives have lowered the pricing structure for some of its leisure services. Northumberland contains one of Britain’s wealthiest Wards held by the Tory Leader Councillor Jackson in Ponteland where some of wealthiest retired people in the Country dwell, who can now swim every day for 0.84p yet facilities needed by people who can only dream of such wealth may be closed without consultation with those in greatest need, in order to support those with absolutely no need at all. It's clear where Tory priorities are and it's not Ashington, Blyth, Cramlington, Bedlington, Newbiggin, Druridge Bay, Amble and Seaton Valley. 

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