Ambitious plans set out for Northumberland after administration’s first year in office
24 May 2018
Exactly a year after local elections saw a change in administration in Northumberland, the leader of the County Council says he is proud of what’s been achieved over the past 12 months, with ambitious plans for the future.
Councillor Peter Jackson believes the coming years will bring ‘many exciting opportunities and developments’ across the county as the council ‘works to punch above its weight’.
He said: “On May 24th last year we pledged this would be a council that would listen to local people, value everyone equally and provide the very best services residents could rely on day in and day out. A year into our administration we’re proud of our record.”
Changes introduced over the past year include:
- Giving back some key decision making to local areas and local communities, providing more engagement at a local level such as powers to determine many planning applications.
- Scrapping post 16 travel charges for students - meaning many hard working families are now £600 a year better off.
- Investing in the County Hall site in Morpeth - saving millions of pounds from a planned relocation six miles away, while looking to secure exciting new retail investment on the development site in Ashington.
- Ongoing work to improve the state of the county’s 3,000 miles of roads
Looking ahead, a number of ambitious projects are in the pipeline.
Cllr Jackson said: “Our towns, villages and rural communities are the lifeblood of our county. We’ve started work on projects in many of our key towns, and will progress plans to improve parking, reinvigorate town centres and create more affordable homes.
“The Northumberland Local Plan, which will set out how land is used and what will be built where over the next 20 years, is a major piece of work but we’re accelerating the programme to produce it months earlier than planned.
“Several of our market towns now have clear strategies to deal with traffic and parking issues over the coming years, while communities are being encouraged to have their say on how their areas develop in the future.
“On education, there are still many challenges ahead but we are committed to improving standards for everyone. The recent consultation in West Northumberland has shown we are a council that will listen and act. Tens of millions will be invested in schools across Tynedale over the coming years to provide state of the art facilities for our young people.
“Work is also well underway on creating almost 600 extra school places in areas where there’s been real pressures in the past such as Blyth and Morpeth.
“To cater for the rising demand for Special Education Needs school places within Northumberland, we’re making more than 80 news spaces available in the county in Ashington and Hexham.”
Peter Jackson also believes that economic regeneration is key for the county to thrive.
He said: “A devolution deal is imminent for the North of Tyne area, with fully devolved funding and powers to make our own future.
“Together with the Borderlands Growth Deal, where we’re working to promote the region with our neighbouring councils in England and Scotland, these are great opportunities for us to secure additional investment, bring new and improved jobs to our county and champion our area both nationally and internationally.
“The right infrastructure is vital for real regeneration to take place and over the next 12 months progress will be made towards the re-opening of the new passenger rail line from Newcastle to south east Northumberland. We’ll also keep pressing the case for the A1 to be dualled throughout Northumberland while spending millions improving our own road network.
“During the next year we will see some radical improvements in the way we look after older and vulnerable adults as Northumberland continues to lead the way on joining up health and social care.
“Consultation has already taken place on joined up health and leisure facilities in the Berwick area, while we’ll be looking to improve the way in-house day and home care services are provided.
- A commitment to spend the biggest capital spend in the council’s history, nearly £600m over the next three years on new schools, transport and highway improvements, as well as new homes across Northumberland.
“A new cultural strategy has been launched, setting out our five-year vision to be internationally recognised for our exceptional cultural offer.
“This summer Great Northumberland will celebrate all that’s great about the cultural and artistic heritage of our county, and link in with the Great Exhibition of the North, giving us the chance to showcase Northumberland to the three million expected visitors.
Our ‘Produced in Northumberland’ scheme which promotes the best food and drink the county has to offer will also be shown in the Houses of Parliament after getting the backing of the Prime Minister!
He added: “We firmly believe this is our time to shine - to shout about what’s great about Northumberland, and start punching above our weight.
“Over the coming year, we’ll be working tirelessly to ensure the council delivers on its promises to strive for a brighter future for all - a county that works for everyone.”