Labour pledge for a ‘bonanza of services and jobs’ in Alnwick

Alnwick town centre - The Playhouse.
Alnwick town centre - The Playhouse.

The decentralisation of council services as part of the relocation of County Hall could see 300 to 400 jobs located in Alnwick.

It’s all part of the Labour administration’s market-towns strategy and would see the local authority become the town’s largest employer.

Coun Grant Davey.

Coun Grant Davey.

The changes mean more than 30 services are likely to be delivered from at least four locations in the town, including some from the Alnwick Playhouse following the deal reported in last week’s Gazette.

Labour’s own figures estimate that the financial impact could see between £7.5million and £11.25million injected into the local economy depending on the final number of jobs shifted to the Alnwick area.

The relocation of the council’s HQ from Morpeth to Ashington has proved extremely controversial, but the Labour leadership has always insisted the move is about a wider strategy of decentralisation and providing more services locally.

Among the fiercest critics has been the Conservative group, which describes the new office in Ashington as a ‘£40million white elephant’.

At the council meeting in February at which the funding for the project was signed off, Tory group leader, Peter Jackson, described the proposed new County Hall as ‘the largest vanity project of our lifetime’ and a ‘palace for councillors’.

Council and Labour leader, Grant Davey, said: “We’re determined to keep our promises to our market towns despite inexplicable Conservative opposition to decentralise our services and jobs.

“We think the towns of Northumberland should benefit from this, not just concentrate on Morpeth.

“Residents should be able to access our services as conveniently as possible and not be forced to trek to County Hall in Morpeth and it’s clear that delivering services this way, centralised and distant from communities, is unsustainable while the Conservative Government chooses to slash our revenue by more than 80 per cent.

“Local Conservatives in the market towns should ask themselves whether they’re really against jobs and services coming back to their towns or whether they’re being misled.

“I’m keen to work with all councillors and communities who want to leave the politics at the door and get stuck into making our promise to move services and jobs back to our towns a reality.

“Alnwick will see a huge boost to its economy and it will see easily-accessible services which will give residents a choice they don’t currently get.”

Work is currently taking place to the Northumberland Hall so that it can be used as a wedding venue. It is set to be completed at the end of June.