LABOUR politicians have unveiled a ‘We’re backing Northumberland’ pledge in their election manifesto.
The Party’s campaign focuses on actions to boost the local economy, with affordable house building top of the agenda.
The group says that at least 1,300 affordable homes would be built, with a presumption to ‘buy local’, if it wins control of Northumberland County Council in May.
It is estimated that the project would protect up to 3,000 jobs and keep around £60million circulating in the local economy, while at least 100 new apprenticeships would be created every year for the four years of the house building programme.
The Party has also stated its intention to scrap parking charges in Northumberland’s market towns after setting up a petition on the issue earlier this year.
It says that the ‘unfair car parking tax’ on Morpeth, Alnwick, Hexham and Berwick is sucking up to £5million from the economy.
Another pledge would see council services modernised, but ‘in-house’ provision would be promoted, rather than privatising services, which the group says has already cost an estimated £1million in consultants’ fees.
Staff would be given a prominent role in developing the services and local public sector jobs that benefit the economy would be protected.
There are plans to work with Northumberland’s town councils to develop local service hubs.
The Labour group says this will help to breathe new life into towns, including Morpeth, Ashington, Blyth, Hexham and Berwick.
And there are also proposals for rural areas, with a promise to set up a Rural Business sub-committee.
The body would have powers to draw up a Rural Action Plan, which would set out measures to help tackle problems faced by countryside businesses, including the farming sector, and to address poverty. There would also be support for the renewable energy sector.
Meanwhile, a dedicated arms-length body would be created to promote Northumberland’s tourism industry across the country and internationally.
Labour Group Leader Grant Davey says the plans will concentrate resources on strengthening rural and urban economies.
He said: “We’ve been subjected to a parking tax which has sucked £5million out of the economy of Berwick, Hexham, Morpeth and Alnwick.
“We’ve had a rush to prepare council services for privatisation and a complete lack of interest in supporting key rural industries like farming and tourism.
“Our plans tackle this neglect and we’re keen to make sure that big council projects under a Labour administration will have a presumption to buy local.
“For example, our 1,300 affordable homes pledge will create at least 500 construction jobs, along with 100 apprentices per year, but we’ll move to make sure local firms get a fair crack in the procurement process.”