Since Labour formed a minority administration in 2013, we’ve worked hard to tackle inherited problems and a sustained attack by a Conservative-led government that has hammered rural and urban Northumberland.
We’ve changed the way we do business after almost £200m was wiped from the council’s budgets and we’re proud to say ‘Northumberland is open for business’.
In 2013, we made simple promises – we promised to introduce free car parking for our market towns to boost local economies, we promised to make available 1000 affordable homes and we promised to return council jobs and services back to market towns like Alnwick, Berwick, Hexham, Ashington, Blyth, Cramlington, Newbiggin, Bedlington and Morpeth.
We kept those promises against Conservative and Liberal Democrat opposition who opposed everything we put forward as part of the Say No To Everything campaign.
We tackled a pothole backlog of 27,000 in the first year. We dealt with floods in Corbridge and Hexham, we tackled landslips at Rothbury and we kept our key focus ‘Creating and safeguarding jobs and making Northumberland’s economy stronger’.
In 2017, our task will be huge – to build on strong and secure finances, to continue to invest in and protect frontline services, to invest in our communities across Northumberland and to create and safeguard jobs to nurture the county economy. We’ll do that by building a further 1500 affordable homes, by investing in our infrastructure like the Ashington-Blyth-Tyne line, creating over 10,000 new jobs in our economy and by investing in frontline services.
Our plans stand up to financial scrutiny – they’ve been given the thumbs up by the independent Local Government Association. Our investments don’t just include bricks and mortar, they include our people and our communities across your Northumberland. We have achieved great things during the current Conservative and former Coalition Government administrations and through their constant attacks on rural Northumberland we have changed our management style and adopted new ways of working both as a Council and as a major workforce. The Government have almost removed our rural services grant and our sparsity funding, so we’re stretching the budgets for urban service delivery to cover the loss. In Children & Adult Services as well as Clean & Green Operations, Highways Repair, Housing and the Fire Service we are improving local service delivery, while the Tories in opposition simply want to ensure that Morpeth, an urban heartland they feel an affinity to, is preserved in aspic, whilst all of our other wonderful, precious Market Towns countywide would be made to suffer as a consequence. We plan to ensure the Council’s current and future investments in towns like Alnwick, Amble, Ashington, Bedlington, Berwick, Blyth, Cramlington, Haltwhistle, Hexham, Prudhoe and, of course, Morpeth, make those ‘Good Places Even Better’.
Since 2010, the Conservative and Liberal Democrats have cut £191,500,000 from Northumberland’s budget. The scale of cuts from government is relentless and we’ve been landed with a cut of £11,300,000 for this year. We need to cut an additional £46,000,000 over the next three years.
Rural communities like Northumberland have been hit especially hard by this Conservative government. By 2019, Northumberland’s residents will be valued at £6.85 per head compared to urban residents who will be valued at £66.82. This huge cut fails to recognise that it costs three times more to deliver services to rural communities.
We have to invest and we create new revenue like our investments in Northumberland’s NHS and in ‘virtuous investments’ like Manor Walks in Cramlington and Tyne Green in Hexham. We’ve invested in the Ramparts Business Park in Berwick. Our investment in the NHS has meant lower repayment costs for Cramlington Specialist Accident & Emergency, Hexham Hospital and a new hospital to replace Berwick Infirmary.
Our investments through ARCH will see £25m returned to the council as a profit to be used to offset Conservative cuts.
- We will deliver our future hub services from the historic Playhouse building in partnership with the theatre’s operators to ensure that services and the needs of local people are delivered as locally as possible.
- We will open a new Fire Station and increase depot capacity to ensure we are able to help those in need more quickly.
- We will begin Decent Homes 2 and further improve the living standards of our tenants.
- We will continue to bring additional housing opportunities to the town to create a good mix of housing types to suit all needs.
- In Amble, we will resolve car parking issues as part of a co-ordinated plan for the town.
- We will deliver an increased number of affordable homes for social rent through close working with our partners.
- A new Veterinary practice has pledged to set up in the area.
- We will build a new hotel to ensure a better level of bed space exits within this growing tourist area.
- We will build and develop more opportunities to attract more visitors to the town to ensure ever more summer visitors to enjoy our area and help the local economy.
- We will enhance the local economy through the rebirth of the industrial estate to ensure all of the new influx of visitors and new residents will be catered for, our plans will increase jobs in the local economy by an estimated 90 full time equivalents.
- Ashington will benefit from the ‘Hub’, our new multi-use office accommodation in the Town creating and sustaining over 2000 jobs at Portland Park.
- We will open two stations in Ashington on the AB&T line, one at Woodhorn that will service the rural coalfield and the huge Wansbeck General Hospital and one at Ashington Central to service the town.
- As part of our 10,000 job pledge we will increase the commercial and industrial floor space available to attract ever more medium size companies to settle here to service Energy Central and the growth that exercise will bring.
- We will continue to increase commercial opportunities for growth on Station Road and Milburn Road as the Town begins to grow during the lifetime of this administration and we’ll start the regeneration of Wansbeck Square as part of the Ashington-Blyth-Tyne line dividend.
- Bedlington Town Centre regeneration will move towards completion as will the Bedlington Station improvement scheme in readiness for the reopening of the AB&T Line and the prosperity that will bring to the area.
- Energy Central will emerge from the ground and employ many thousands on construction whilst creating approx 3000 permanent jobs on shore bolstering the Blyth and Bedlington economies, returning people to work who haven’t worked for many years and opening training opportunities up in the Blyth Estuary that will benefit many more, improving our skills base and increasing spend in the local economy.
- As part of our 1500 new affordable houses pledge we’ll develop housing, both for sale and for affordable rent to the north of Energy Central near Cambois.
- The proton beam therapy centre will open its doors during 2017 and bring jobs and opportunities for both Choppington and Bedlington East areas.
- We will work with partners to look at future school building provision with a view to new school buildings.
- We will work with partners to develop Berwick Barracks via the reawakening program a £5M scheme that will create eighteen jobs.
- A new Leisure Centre will be built as well as two 3/4G sport pitches to ensure that facilities for locals and visitors are enhanced.
- The second Cowes building will be improved, a new hotel completed and the Harbour Groin repaired, to increase job opportunities in the Town.
- The Ramparts Business Park is now in single ownership (ARCH) and will be used to attract new jobs to the town as part of its Enterprise Zone status.
- A park and ride facility will be established to take the strain from town centre parking during the busy summer months and the increase in tourism will enhance the commercial opportunities for the town filling empty shops as the economy grows.
- We will work tirelessly to ensure our investment in the New Hospital facility at Berwick is delivered to suit the identified health needs of the area.
- We will complete the refurbishment of the Union Chain Bridge.
- A new Blyth relief road will be constructed leading to the creation of 600 jobs in the wider economy through the additional employment that will be created in the Port of Blyth through easier traffic movements.
- A New Town Centre Plan will regenerate the town, it will include shops, a new theatre to improve the night time economy and offices and homes increasing the number of people living and working in the town.
- A new Leisure Centre will be built to replace the existing one and will include modern facilities that are being heavily used at our other sites.
- Two new stations will be built on the AB&T Line to increase the use of public transport for those working in the conurbation and beyond.
- We will work with partners like Blyth Town Council and the National Market Traders Federation to improve Blyth market contributing to increasing commerce to the town.
- Energy Central is a 218 Hectare site nestled around the river Blyth estuary, a deep water port the project to refresh the renewable energy sector, training for the sector and expand the catapult program. This will be locked in through the arrival of the 430Ml long 1.400KvA cable from Norway bringing green energy ashore in the estuary. Energy Central will create an estimated 3000 over the lifetime of this administration.
- Support ground breaking Proton beam treatment centre bringing jobs to area
- Back Ashington-Blyth-Tyne line to bring jobs and prosperity to local area
- Plan new school investment in Choppington area as part of our education investment.
- We will work with partners to revitalise Plots 2,3 & 4 at Nelson Park Industrial Estate which will bring 300 new jobs to the town as part of our 10,000 jobs promise.
- The new Town Centre plan will see two new roundabouts at Westmoreland and East Harford, a multi storey parking, additional retail and office space, a new atrium remodelled shop space inside the Manor Walks centre. This investment will create over 1000 new jobs as part of our 10,000 jobs promise.
- We will reposition Cramlington Station to assist a better flow of tourists and shoppers to the facilities in the Town and make it an East Coast mainline destination point.
- We will build a new entranceway to service the village of East Hartford that has been cut off to easy public transport links through the lack of this type of investment.
- We will build more affordable housing in Cramlington as part of our 1500 new affordable homes pledge.
- We will invest in Cramlington’s industrial estates and work with partners to sustain thousands of jobs on these sites.
- Investment in the Druridge Bay Fitness Centre.
- Investment in the Hadston Park facilities.
- Investment in James Calvert Spence College.
- We will vigorously encourage Highways England to dual the A69 and assist where we can with design work.
- We will work in partnership with our economic and regeneration company ARCH to encourage growth in jobs and the economy using Haltwhistle’s unique geographical position to increase our trade links with the North West and the West of Scotland.
- We will work with regional and Government agencies on Haltwhistle’s flood alleviation scheme.
- We will ensure our well developed high standards in partnership with health providers becomes the County model during this massive period of national change for the NHS.
- We will ensure that Haltwhistle benefits from our 1500 new affordable homes pledge.
- In Hexham we will work on the re-opening of Hexham House and concentrate on expanding our front of house services into the Queens Hall, safeguarding that facility.
- We will build a multi storey car park to handle the increased traffic that coming out of recession has brought to the Tyne Valley.
- We will replace our depot on a site that does not flood which locks the workforce GVA into Hexham to assist future investors into making solid decisions on whether to open new businesses in the town.
- We will work with the private sector and ARCH to deliver the old bus station regeneration programme, bringing much needed people back into the Town Centre ensuring a lively night time economy is sustainable.
- Our sustainable transport team will keep up pressure on Government to bring new rail opportunities onto the Tyne Valley line, including new rolling stock. This may in the medium term allow a Carlisle to Ashington Service to develop after the AB&T Line reopens.
- Over £20m investment in new first school, leisure centre, multi-story car park and new hotel.
- £40m investment in Morpeth Bypass and Flood Defences protecting and enhancing the town.
- Morpeth Investment Plan which will see over 30 council services and over 100 council jobs situated in the town centre.
- New £1.3m development to provide retail opportunities and more community activities.
- Continued investment in kitchens and/or bathrooms in council owned accommodation.
- More investment in tourism and leisure building on £1m investment in Newbiggin Leisure Centre.
- We will create new opportunities with over 300 jobs available at the Mitford development near Pegswood.
- Invest in upgrading council housing with new kitchens and bathrooms in Decent Homes 2.
- Protect tenancies against Tory plans to open homes up to ‘right to buy’.
- Our plans to build an education and leisure hub in Ponteland are well advanced and will bring the benefits of Education, Children’s Health services, access to Council services and public health engagement onto one site, a major coup for Northumberland and a model we will try to replicate in some of our other small towns.
- We will work with Government to deliver the new garden village project in nearby Dissington. It will bring the benefits of new affordable homes to an area where they are sorely needed, a new bypass road for Ponteland Town Centre and a flood reduction and alleviation scheme for the river Pont and its catchment burns and ditches, safeguarding Ponteland town.
- We will work with our North of Tyne partner City of Newcastle Council, on improving access to the A69 from Ponteland.
- We continue to enhance services in Prudhoe to service the two large housing developments that are underway, including more affordable homes as part of our 1500 pledge.
- Our work on improving job opportunities in Prudhoe will continue with expansion of the work we have begun in Low Prudhoe, future opportunities for an improved retail offer and additional factory units to catch the passing trade on the bypass is expected to bring 90 FTE jobs.
- We will continue to improve Prudhoe as a tourist destination with its easy access by rail and bus transport from the Tyneside conurbation. This will stabilise jobs on the high street and in conjunction with the population increase that is underway, underpin both the daytime and nighttime economies in the Town.
- A new station will be built at Seaton Delaval along with car parks and a bus transport hub that will link Cramlington and its new hospital facilities to the AB&T Line and of course easy access to employment over the footprint of the AB&T Corridor and the Tyneside Metro. This will raise house prices in both Seaton Delaval and East Cramlington.
- We will renew the High School in Seaton Delaval and build a new early-learners and first school in Hollywell, improving educational opportunities for families across one of our deprived areas.
- Our core strategy protects the green belt between North Tyneside and Northumberland and although we are working closely with our neighbouring authorities on a North of Tyne Combined Authority we will defend and protect our green belt ensuring a rural feel as one enters our county from the conurbation.