Monday, 11 February 2013

Localism? Do people want a small local authority like Tynedale or a large Northumberland County Council?

Everywhere I go people are upset about John  Prescott's decision in 2007 in the last days of the Labour government to get rid of Tynedale DC and create Northumberland County Council. Local people remember the efficiency, financial astuteness and organisation of Tynedale very fondly. People in Haltwhistle on Satruday made the point that slowly but surely the power, resources and key actions by the County Council are being focused on the east - on Morpeth, Ashington and beyond.
I recently debated the issue of regional government, and large local governments, with other MPs in the House of Commons. The Labour members wanted ever larger regional government and supported the creation of the unitary authority here in Northumberland. This is in the context of their specific desire for another layer of regional assembly for the North. Even though this was rejected by a vote less than 10 years ago.
For my part I wanted to know if Tynedale could return?
It is not impossible, but I accept it would not be easy. Others have done this before but it needs a sustained campaign, a proper business plan, and lessons to be learnt from where it has been done successfully. The traditional campaigners on this issue are the Isle of Wight, Rutland, Flintshire and specific areas. The problems with the present Northumberland County Council are numerous but it is trying to satisfy a rural and a suburban populace, and struggling to do so.
The Journal reported the matter here:
It is worth reading the comment at the end of the Journal piece. That is almost exactly what countless voters tell me. Please comment or write in on whether small is beautiful or big is best?