Economic plan criticised for focus on the south-east

Then Cities Minister Greg Clark, pictured with Anne-Marie Trevelyan, announced the Enterprise Zone pledge during a visit to Berwick in April.
Then Cities Minister Greg Clark, pictured with Anne-Marie Trevelyan, announced the Enterprise Zone pledge during a visit to Berwick in April.

Opposition politicians have slammed the county council’s new economic policy, describing it as ‘lacking substance’ and ‘ineffective’.

The Northumberland Economic Strategy was approved by the authority’s cabinet on Tuesday morning.

But Conservative leader Peter Jackson has criticised the Labour administration, saying the strategy is ‘an attempted justification for pouring millions more of taxpayers’ money into the Labour heartlands of Blyth and Ashington, while just paying lipservice to the real needs of the rest of the county’.

“There is little to encourage communities across the county such as Wooler, Rothbury, Alnwick and Berwick,” he added. “These are all examples of communities which have particular needs and a right to equal treatment.”

He also said that the local authority should be leading calls for an Enterprise Zone in north Northumberland, which was pledged by the Chancellor George Osborne prior to the General Election.

New Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan was of the same opinion, saying: “I hope very much that Labour councillors will work with me to draw in business investment to the towns of Amble, Alnwick and Berwick so that we can see the growth of more and better jobs for the next generation.”

A Labour group spokesman highlighted council cash for broadband in rural communities and the partial dualling of the A1 as well as Tory opposition to the council HQ move, which ‘will see hundreds of good-quality council jobs returning to market towns like Alnwick and Berwick’, and plans to build thousands of affordable homes.

He added: “We’re used to local Tories opposing everything put forward by this Labour administration, but we’d appreciate it if they opposed their own government’s savage cuts to Northumberland more instead of the deafening silence which emanates from Tory representatives in Northumberland.”