Tories pledge free parking

Northumberland County Councillor and conservative leader Peter Jackson at County Hall.
Northumberland County Councillor and conservative leader Peter Jackson at County Hall.

FREE residents parking will be proposed across Northumberland within 100 days if the Conservatives take control of the county council.

The pledge is detailed in the Party’s Manifesto, which has been published ahead of local elections on May 2.

Parking would be controlled through the use of time discs, while the loss in revenue would be covered by efficiency savings.

Group Leader Peter Jackson said: “This has been a major issue for a long time.

“We are promising that in the first 100 days of a Conservative-led council we will bring in this as a serious proposal. Together with the Chamber of Trade we are going to make this a reality.”

The manifesto has been produced after consultation with residents, including a survey sent to more than 10,000 homes about people’s priorities.

Coun Jackson said: “We are quite excited about this manifesto. It is a once in a four or five year opportunity to set out the services that the Conservatives would like to bring to Northumberland.

“We feel that the council has been in a state of slumber for the last five years and hasn’t achieved the potential that it should have done.”

The top priority is road repairs and the plan is to spend more than £30million over four years on maintenance.

“We are promising unprecedented investment in Northumberland’s roads because they are in such a state of crisis,” said Coun Jackson.

“If we fix our roads, rather than short-term patching it will be an invest to save scheme because it will save money on maintenance.”

The group proposes no rise in council tax until 2017.

And £10million would be invested in a jobs bank to help local businesses that are finding it difficult to expand and create employment. The party says that 2,000 jobs would be provided.

“It is the experience of councils elsewhere that gives us the confidence in these figures. It is not just a hot air promise,” said Coun Jackson.

The Party, which has been pressing for a minimum distance to be set between wind turbines and homes, also promises a clear policy for turbine applications to protect the landscape.

However, Coun Jackson has previously been criticised after an application for a turbine on his land was submitted.

He said: “That was a third party application for my land and there was no written agreement between me and the applicant. It was an application that happened about two years ago.

“The main point is that now right across Northumberland there is a flood of applications for wind turbines and increasingly residents around Morpeth feel threatened.

“The Conservative group is of the strong view that the county council’s planning regulations are far too lax.”

Funding for the proposals would be in the capital programme or come from efficiencies.