DEVOLUTION: County needs a rural deal

County Hall, Morpeth
County Hall, Morpeth

Last week’s letter from Susan Bell calling for some form of devolution of powers to the North East contained a great deal of common sense.

I do believe that it is the case that decisions are generally better made as close as possible to the people who are to be affected. The Government has started to move down this line with the City Deals but we really need a Rural Deal for our county.

Unfortunately in Northumberland we have gone down the route of greater centralisation with the increasingly strident and pointedly anti-rural actions of the Labour-run unitary county council.

They have presided over a split county in which services to the more rural areas are definitely worse than those in their heartlands of the Blyth and Ashington, take the state of the roads as one example or the lack of understanding of the effects of the £600 teenage transport tax on young people and families.

Worse than that the Labour-run county council has now set upon a path of rebuilding Ashington town centre at a huge long-term cost to council taxpayers across the whole county.

First there is the bill for the new £20 million leisure centre in Ashington and now Labour are intent to waste £40 million on a new and unnecessary white elephant council headquarters, also in Ashington.

People are calling this the new Ashington Kremlin but I am not sure whether it really will have gold topped spires to adorn the roof!

Both common sense and fairness seem to have been left behind in Northumberland. So not only will I continue to argue for devolution on a national scale but I will carry on calling for a greater fairness in distribution within our county starting with a move to localised budgets being decided locally.

Coun Peter Jackson,

Leader of Northumberland Conservatives