Monday, December 10, 2012

Open Letter to News Post Leader

11 Craigmill Park,
10 December 2012                                       Blyth,
                                                                   NE24 5JL.
                                                                   01670 369725

Dear Sir,

In his Autumn statement George Osborne has announced another round of transport investment. None of it, as usual, is coming to Northumberland, although Northumberland residents might benefit from the generous gift of new roads around the Metro centre to the property companies who own the shopping centre that sucks the life out of the rest of the North east.

What’s clear though is that even if George Osborne knew where Northumberland is, or who Alan Beith, his LibDem comrade in arms is, Northumberland County Council has been so badly run that it had no shovel ready schemes to offer for funding.

As soon as George Osborne indicated that he might have money to spend the Tory party’s leader in waiting, Boris Johnson was ready with another scheme to lavish more money on London at the expense of the rest of us. Gateshead Council were ready with schemes to protect the shopping centre that will shore up their finances once business rates are retained locally. For Northumberland, facing a massive loss of grant once business rates are localised in order to subsidise the south east’s prosperity, had nothing to put on the table as a shovel ready scheme.

Five years ago all the major parties in Northumberland supported the re-opening of Belford station, a simple project given that trains already go there, and stop. It still isn’t ready. No progress has been made on the Ashington Blyth and Tyne line in the last five years. Nothing has been done about the traffic congestion on Cowpen Road in Blyth, Northumberland’s most congested road. The A1 is no nearer being dualled, and the proposed line of the improved A1 is being threatened by other developments.

The most significant projects carried out by Northumberland’s LibDems have been in their Morpeth heartlands, and the less said about the disaster that is Morpeth’s new traffic lights, the better. They’re a sideshow to the central problem; that this hand to mouth government, limping from missed target to missed target will increasingly be looking for shovel ready projects as it finds a few more millions down the back of the sofa. Under the LibDems Northumberland will never be ready.

J Grant Davey
Leader, Northumberland Labour Group.