Row breaks out over ‘national’ council contract

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COUNCIL leaders have been accused of putting local jobs at risk by awarding a major contract to a national company.

Northumberland Conservatives have slammed the county’s Labour administration over a proposed contract with Jewsons to provide materials and stores.

Group Leader Peter Jackson accused Labour and its Independent alliance members on Northumberland County Council of saying one thing and doing another.

But Labour says it has to get value for money for the taxpayer against the backdrop of Government cuts, while pointing out that Jewson employs a number of people in the county.

Coun Jackson said: “Just days ago, the Labour administration claimed it was going to do everything it could to help local firms and businesses in the county and surrounding area, and here we have a large contract to just one large company. The hypocrisy is astounding as it used a shortcut procurement process to push this deal through.

“Our priority should be to get best value for taxpayers’ money, but at the same time make sure we are putting that money into local people’s pay packets, not onto the bottom line of a large multinational based hundreds of miles away in France.”

Council Business Chairman Scott Dickinson said: “Once again, Coun Jackson and his Tories have chosen to ‘shoot from the lip’ with yet another ill-informed attack on the county.

“We won’t take lectures from a local Tory party which is sitting back and allowing its Government to cut £42million from the council budget.

“Against this backdrop, we’ve got to ensure value for money for every contract and Coun Jackson clearly doesn’t care that Jewson employs at least 35 local people currently and has seven branches across Northumberland. This contract will mean more jobs and substantial savings for the tax payer.”