Services fiasco blamed on the Lib Dems

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YOUR paper has recently covered the passing of responsibilities for providing local services from Northumberland County Council to parish and town councils.

Northumberland Conservatives agree that the financial climate makes it inevitable that local councils will provide more services in future.

We see this as an opportunity to deliver services closer to the people who use them, something we find desirable.

But we feel very strongly about the shameful mess that has been made of this process by the Lib Dem Administration at County Hall.

For more than 18 months we have urged the Lib Dems to talk directly with each and every local council. Instead, the Lib Dems began the process by rushing out a poorly-conceived letter just before Christmas.

It is hard to overstate the confusion and anxiety caused among local councils by this disastrous letter. The letter gave the impression that local councils would be forced to provide a long list of expensive services. It was full of factual errors, referring to services in areas where they do not exist and confusing villages with passingly similar names, such as Longhoughton and Longhorsley.

Instead of telling parishes the cost of delivering a particular local service, it gave the average cost for delivering that service in Northumberland, which is hugely misleading.

The Lib Dems are wholly responsible for this confusion and have now performed an embarrassing U-turn, delaying the transfer of services by a further year.

They must live up to their renewed promise to meet each and every local council this summer. However, the damage they have done to relations between local councils and County Hall will take years to undo.

Peter Jackson,

Leader

Glen Sanderson,

Deputy Leader, Northumberland Conservatives