Labour slams Tory MP ‘stitch up’ for Independence

Who’s speaking up for North Northumberland? – Scott Dickinson, Labour PPC in Berwick 

Labour have slammed, what they describe as, a ‘blatant power grab’ by Hexham Conservative MP Guy Opperman who has put forward a proposal to create two separate council’s to represent the ‘rural West and North’ and the ‘urban South East’. They’re pointing out that wards such as Chevington, Ellington, Hartburn, Longhorsley, Lynemouth andUlgham who have traditionally enjoyed close links with the South East of Northumberland especially through the rural coalfields haven’t been consulted by the Tories on the proposal to split the county in two. 

They’re also pointing out that the urban south east accounts for 50.3% of Northumberland’s total population while a rural council would have fewer people in the tax base, would serve an area larger than Luxembourg and would attract s significantly smaller government grant because of the government changes to ‘sparcity factors’. 

Labour have estimated that the rural council would have to triple council tax bills just to stand still and would face significant problems in delivering services to sparsely populated areas. That means the average band d tax bill would jump from £1399.61 currently to an eye watering £4198.83. 

Now Labour’s Scott Dickinson has challenged Conservative Anne Marie Trevelyan and Lib Dem MP Sir Alan Beith to back or ditch plans he says ‘were cooked up in the West and imposed on North Northumberland’. Scott who represents rural Druridge Bay and is Labour’s PPC for Berwick says

‘This plan, cooked up by Guy Opperman just doesn’t add up. He fails to mention his government is cutting the council budget by a third over the next 3 years and yet he wants the cost of a new council to fall on the shoulders of fewer tax payers in the North and the West. We estimate this would see council tax bills triple and set up costs for a new council of above £10m at a time when council budgets are being slashed. We really need to know if the Conservatives and Lib Dems in North Northumberland back this plan or if they’ve even been consulted about this prior to Guy Opperman’s reckless gamble with the future of council services’.

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