Anger over money blow for tourism

THE Government has come under fire from Northumberland County Council’s administration after closing off a funding stream to tourism sites and initiatives.

The move by Whitehall means that organisations in the sector will be unable to apply for cash from the Local Growth Fund because they are deemed not to bring enough economic potential.

Now local Labour politicians such as prospective parliamentary candidate in Hexham, Liam Carr, and Northumberland County Council chair Scott Dickinson, member for Druridge Bay, have joined forces to demand an ‘urgent re-think’ and have also called on Conservative MP for Hexham, Guy Opperman, and Liberal Democrat MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, Sir Alan Beith, to help their efforts.

Last year, Northumberland benefited from a £700million tourism boost to the local economy.

It is feared that the snub to the sector, which supports more than 10,000 jobs directly and indirectly, will affect the growth development of World Heritage sites such as Hadrian’s Wall and more recent cultural landmarks like Northumberlandia, near Blagdon.

Coun Dickinson said: “It’s being said that the Conservative-led coalition don’t understand the North and this is just another example of how they just don’t get us.

“To say that ‘tourism isn’t an economic priority’ and to starve our world heritage sites shows how out of touch they really are and I’m disappointed that coalition representatives in the North have kept quiet while this policy was being stitched up in Whitehall.

“People in Northumberland who make their living from tourism will feel that this is a slap in the face as they struggle against the backdrop of an economy that works for the few, not the many.”

The Northumberlandia landform is already making a name for itself and it won the Best Landscape Architecture category in the 2013 International Property Awards.

Also in the last year, Northumberland was nominated for the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards in the ‘Britain’s favourite holiday destination’ category.