Labour pledges to scrap Advance Northumberland as it launches manifesto ahead of county council elections

Northumberland Labour Group’s manifesto pledges to dissolve council-owned development company Advance Northumberland if it wins a majority in May.

By Austen Shakespeare
Sunday, 28th March 2021, 12:02 pm
Labour leader Cllr Susan Dungworth
Labour leader Cllr Susan Dungworth

Labour aims to dissolve Advance and replace it with a Regeneration Trust.

Cllr Susan Dungworth, Labour group leader, said: “I think it’s fair to stay however we look at it (Advance), it has not been a renowned success.”

Independent trustees would be appointed to the trust as the current system of councillor directors “muddy the waters” according to Cllr Dungworth.

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The Northumberland Labour leader said she hoped independent trustees would make it “very clear to investors and to the public whose responsibility is whose” with regards to ownership and administration.

The trust would prioritise helping “bits of Northumberland that are sorely in need of regeneration,” she said.

The opposition leader cited Wansbeck as an example, claiming despite Advance owning substantial property “there have been no improvement works”.

Despite the proposed change in Advance’s governance, Cllr Dungworth was keen to clarify that Labour’s plans would not effect the workforce.

“Its not about scrapping the whole thing and getting rid of the people who work in the estates.,” she said.

“This is about changing the governance.”

Labour pledges that the trust will also focus on bringing in and keeping investments in the region.

The Labour Group also pledged to build 1,000 new affordable energy-efficient homes across Northumberland without infringing on greenbelt land.

“Its not just about building houses, its about building the right houses in the right places,” she said.

“It’s about looking at the housing needs in particular communities, identifying gaps there and trying to fill them wherever possible.”

The promised homes, according to Cllr Dungworth, would also afford young people the chance to stay in their communities and not be forced out by more expensive housing.

Labour councillor for Cramlington , Allan Hepple, said Labour’s pledge for energy-efficient homes is about putting “money back in tenants’ pockets”, job creation, and “a link with education and colleges”.

Local elections will take place on May 6. All of Northumberland wards are to be contested.

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