'Drawbridge' remarks made in debate over cross-border differences in services between Scotland and Northumberland
Northumberland’s council leader has said that people in the county ‘do not accept’ attempts by the Scottish Government to ‘pull up a drawbridge between England and Scotland’.
Coun Peter Jackson’s comments came in response to a question from Coun Georgina Hill, one of the Berwick ward members, about cross-border discrepancies in public services at a full council meeting on January 8.
Coun Hill asked if Coun Jackson agreed that residents in Northumberland are disadvantaged due to the lack of cross-border cooperation in relation to areas such as post-16 education funding and health.
She also asked if he felt that this was unlikely to improve given the ‘growing hostility between the Holyrood and Westminster Governments’ and what role the county council can play.
The Conservative leader started his response by highlighting the partnership work which has led to the Borderlands deal being struck, bringing the Scottish and UK Governments together to provide a £350million investment package for the five cross-border councils.
In terms of health, he says that the council can ‘act as an honest broker’ between health authorities, while adding that the aim is ‘to make sure that educational standards are brought up to such a level in Northumberland that there’s no desire whatsoever to move outside our county for offers elsewhere’.
Coun Jackson continued: “There is this issue of a perceived hostility that you refer to and it seems to be created by, in my mind, the Scottish Government trying to pull up a drawbridge between England and Scotland.
“I don’t accept that and I don’t think the people of Northumberland and north Northumberland accept that at all and we will do our best to foster good relations with our neighbours, because it’s quite important not just for daily lives, but the whole economic future of our great county.”