Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Berwick Julie Pörksen, speaking at the debate Towards a Federal UK at the Liberal Democrat conference, has warned of the risk that rural areas will be neglected and fairness could be compromised in any devolution of powers from Westminster.
The outcome of the Scottish independence referendum has seen an increase in momentum across the UK for devolution of powers from Westminster and votes at 16.
Speaking on the issue, Julie Pörksen said: “We know that in the North East the voice of the entire region could easily not be heard. Because Labour look after their heartlands to the exclusion of others.”
Julie also cited recent experience of Labour-controlled Northumberland County Council as evidence of neglect of rural areas that would take place should Labour be in charge of make decisions for the North East region.
“In Northumberland, since Labour took over, they have systematically neglected those in the most rural, northern and western parts of Northumberland,” she said. “Cutting the lifeline that is the school bus for 16 to 18-year-olds and even planning on physically relocating County Hall from Morpeth into the Labour heartland of Ashington.”
Julie called for fair representation for all people, rural and urban and of all political persuasions in any devolution of power.
Commenting about votes at 16, Julie Pörksen added: “I am so pleased that the Scottish independence referendum has proved that young people can vote. Steps should now be taken to lower the voting age to 16.”