Parking, potholes and wind

Northumberland County Councillor and conservative leader Peter Jackson at County Hall.
Northumberland County Councillor and conservative leader Peter Jackson at County Hall.

The Tories would introduce free parking for residents within 100 days if they control the county council after the elections in May.

This week, Northumberland Conservatives unveiled their manifesto, which details five key pledges, including that on parking, which would be managed using time discs.

Speaking to the Gazette, group leader Peter Jackson said that as well as making the parking system fair across the county, it would provide a boost to the economy.

Another issue, which Coun Jackson suggested was the number-one concern at the moment, is the state of the county’s roads.

The Tories have pledged to increase investment in road maintenance by £30million over the next four years.

During the recent vote on the county council’s budget for next year, the Conservatives abstained, saying more should be spent on roads. Coun Jackson said that they want to use capital money to make major repairs rather than quick fixes.

A third key pledge relates to planning policy and a promise for tough new controls on wind turbines involving separation distances from homes, assessing the cumulative impact of multiple applications and the payment of bonds by developers to ensure there is cash to clear sites at the end of their lifespans.

“The county council has sleepwalked into this position,” said Coun Jackson. “It’s no wonder so many residents feel threatened.”

The creation of a Northumberland Jobs Bank to invest £10million over four years to create 2,000 new jobs, as revealed by the Gazette last year, is another manifesto promise.

Another pledge is that there will be no council tax rise until 2017.

More locally, the Tories have also pledged that the Duchess’s Community High School will not be saddled with debt from extra costs relating to the proposed rebuild.

Coun Jackson said: “We are very excited about this manifesto because it’s a once-in-a-four-year opportunity to put forward policies that we feel will make a difference to people across the county.”