Council leader sets out pitfalls of Tory job-creation plans

Jeff Reid, Leader of Northumberland County Council.
Jeff Reid, Leader of Northumberland County Council.

The Lib-Dem leader of the county council has slammed a Tory proposal for a jobs fund as ‘just another in a long line of cheap stunts’.

As revealed in the Gazette, Conservative leader Peter Jackson has proposed to raise £10million from the sale of council-owned buildings and use it to set up a fund to create 2,000 jobs.

However, council leader Jeff Reid is less than impressed with the idea.

“This is just another in a long line of cheap stunts from Northumberland’s financially illiterate Conservative group leader,” he said.

“The headline numbers sound superficially nice but when you actually look at the proposal you see that there is precious little detail and that it would, as is usually the case with the Conservatives’ ideas, actually be impossible to deliver in practice.”

The Conservative plan hinges on the use of capital receipts from building sales to fund it. However, a recent Conservative proposal to use proceeds from selling buildings to fund a pledge to abolish parking charges ran into trouble after it was pointed out that the council would not actually be allowed to do so.

Coun Reid added: “Most importantly, and most worryingly, Coun Jackson still cannot seem to grasp even the most basic principles of local government finance. I will explain it to him once again – capital receipts, like those from selling buildings, cannot be used for this purpose.

“We are investing capital receipts in our £100m capital spending programme, delivering new infrastructure to our county. That’s how you get the sustainable growth in your local economy that you need to attract further investment and jobs.”