Row over major county contract

The Tories have slammed the county’s Labour administration over a proposed contract with a national firm, saying they are risking local jobs.

Northumberland Conservatives leader Peter Jackson accused Labour, along with their Independent alliance members on Northumberland County Council, of saying one thing and doing another, on the subject of a contract with national firm Jewson to provide materials and stores.

But Labour has hit back, saying that they have to get value for money for the taxpayer against the backdrop of the Conservative Government’s cuts, while also pointing out that Jewson employs a number of people across the county.

Coun Jackson said: “Just days ago, the Labour administration claimed they were going to do everything they could to help local firms and businesses in the county and surrounding area, and here we have a large contract to just one large company.

“The hypocrisy is astounding as they used a shortcut procurement process to push this deal through.

“ Our priority should be to get best value for taxpayers’ money, but at the same time, make sure we are putting that money into local people’s pay packets, not onto the bottom line of a large multinational based hundreds of miles away in France.”

Coun Scott Dickinson, the council’s business chairman, said: “Once again, CounJackson and his Tories have chosen to ‘shoot from the lip’ with yet another ill-informed attack on the county.

“We won’t take lectures from a local Tory party which is sitting back and allowing their Government to cut £42million from the council budget.

“Against this backdrop, we’ve got to ensure value for money for every contract and Coun Jackson clearly doesn’t care that Jewson employs at least 35 local people currently and has seven branches across Northumberland. This contract will mean more jobs and substantial savings for the tax payer.

“We currently spend £135million every year locally and this safeguards more than 2,500 local jobs in our economy. Our plans are to expand that by 10 per cent over the coming years, which will mean we spend an extra £13.5million locally against the backdrop of huge cuts by Coun Jackson’s Government.”