26/02/2012 Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria


26/02/2012

Andrew Neil and Richard Moss present political news and debate, including former defence secretray Liam Fox in his first major television interview since leaving the cabinet.


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And in the North East and Cumbria - one third of shops are empty in

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some of our town centres. Are they in terminal decline or can

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we breathe new life into our neglected High Streets? That's at

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2027 seconds

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Hello and a warm welcome to your local part of the show.

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Coming up - 46,000 houses and flats in the North East and Cumbria are

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standing empty. What will it take to bring them back into use?

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And here in the studio, talking housing, High Streets and the

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latest council cuts are my guests, the Easington MP Grahame Morris and

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Yorkshire Euro-MP Timothy Kirkhope. Firstly. Are our High Streets in

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terminal decline? Well, walk around Stockton and you will find one

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quarter of all the shops there are empty.

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It is not much better in Hartlepool or Sunderland.

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Retail expert Mary Portas says our High Streets are failing. But she

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believes there is potential to reinvent them with cheaper town

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centre parking, more open-air markets and fewer regulations on

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traders. Now the government is offering a

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share of �1 million for towns that want to transform their high

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streets. They bought in West Cumbria. With its heritage, the

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town has plenty of tourist attractions, but the town has seen

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better days. Below it rather run- down and tired. We used to have a

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gentleman's outfitters, a dress shop a hat shop and a lot of little

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bakers and things like that. There used to be a Woolworths. They were

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roll replaced by pounds shops and charity shops or are now lying

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empty. The local Bowl shop has been trading in the same location for 60

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years and she thinks it will take more than any Cover to save the

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highest rate. It is all about boosting up the local economy. He

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need to have jobs in the area, so that people have money to spend.

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But town is hoping to get a part of this grant from the retail scheme

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suggested by a Mary Porter us. It would be absolutely fantastic for

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the town to win this bed. It would really work. If people would listen

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and take not and do what we're told, basically. The figure as making

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clear something has to be done. Nearly one-third of the shops here

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are empty, making it one of the worst places in Cumbria. Stockton

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has a quarter of the shops lying empty and the pictures only

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slightly better in Sunderland and Gateshead. For a many, they keep

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reason the highest rate is feeling is the unstoppable rise of out-of-

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town shopping. They believe the massive supermarkets, with their

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free parking and cheaper prices are simply unstoppable. You simply have

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to stop out-of-town developments happening it unless there is

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special developments, you have to make sure there is local parking

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available and you have to simply have to do it. There is not when

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just saying that the market will simply gawp. Day be feels there is

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a future, but feels a winning the bed would be a big boost for the

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town. Well, it is not just traders who

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are losing out. Many of our local authorities own shops and shopping

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centres which they rent out. In Newcastle, for example, the council

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owns some 250 retail premises. While in Carlisle, the city council

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owns the Lanes Shopping Centre. Income is down �277,000 pounds a

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year. It is not meeting the expectations, but I think in coming

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years at will. We have a duty of care to the customers of Carlisle

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and tourists to make sure that this place can continues as it is and

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improves. Let us talk about this plan to rate regenerate the high

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streets. When I very much welcome the report and the recommendations

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and it, I do think that in this sense it is the sticking plaster on

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a major heart attack, because the real problem is the general

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economic conditions. In Seaforth for example, there was 1,000 job

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losses and the increase in value added tax also counts. But a cannot

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surely be recent economic conditions solely to blame? I think

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the coalition government has the obligation here. They said they

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were going to bring any level playing field between the larger

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retailers and the smaller retailers. The general economic policy, not

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least the increase in value added tax, has had a catastrophic effect

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on purchasing power by highest rate shops. Now, we heard about out of

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town shopping centres, supermarkets. Well, there is our between

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retailers, and that does not matter whether they are big or small. We

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do want to take on some of the recommendations. In any town centre,

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�100,000 a surely not small beer? My will, not a tall, but what I

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would like to see is an extension of this, we need to look at

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planning laws. If you want to build a supermarket somewhere, perhaps

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you need to be doing something to do something back into the local

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town. One of the critics of the planning policy would say that

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you're making it harder to fight out of town shopping developments?

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My all, not at all. When you're involved in doing this, we all of

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us have a responsibility for this, it is not simply that government

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has to say this, we have to make it attractive for people to actually

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stay within towns, with an their main streets, within the rural area

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as well as the supermarkets. We or this they cannot recreate the high

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streets of the 1960s, but is it simply money getting pushed at this

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that will solve the problem? Labour Party has come up with the

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four-point plan and an initiative for empty shops, where by these

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decrepit looking France would not be seen. Is that not a bit like the

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sticking plaster? No, we're talking about using these premises for

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other uses, such as learning centres and the likes of that.

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certainly think keeping shops open is very important and we are

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certainly looking at rates and things like that to give breaks for

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places that are in difficulties. More than 100,000 people are stuck

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on the waiting list for social housing in the North East and

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Cumbria. And the government wants to do something about it with its

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new Affordable Homes Programme. Yet critics say the level of funding

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falls well short of what is needed. We will be talking about that in a

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moment. But first, what about another solution - filling some of

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the thousands of homes standing empty? They read decade, derelict

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and abandoned this is part of Newcastle's Byker estate. Now it is

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home again, with people moving in again a few weeks ago. I was just

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laughing all the time. People were staring at me! I just love the

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place. Some under his police to get a home at a price she can afford.

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To be able to get a new place at the price we are renting is

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virtually impossible. The says the success story of a empty house been

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restored and put to use. But it is in the minority. There are 46,000

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empty private premises in the North East. Bringing them back into use

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is the priority. There are virtually no empty council houses.

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That is a real challenge. We have got 9,000 people on our waiting

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list, 300 of these on priority need. But we want to bring back empty

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properties into use in this is an ideal example found we have been

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able to G do that. Well, let us talk now to Monica

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Burns from the National Housing Federation in the North East, which

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represents housing associations. Now, what else has been going on

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As you said in your report, a lot of these houses are privately

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warned that summer and in any area where there is little demand for

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housing, others have been handed down to children, who have decided

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not to sell. There is an array of different reasons as to why the RMT.

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So what can be done about this, particularly the house is in

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private hands? Well, the local authorities are doing a lot to see

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if they can pick these houses back into use. It is a matter of looking

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at each individual case and seen what can be done. The alternative

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is of course building new affordable housing. They have set

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very ambitious targets - are they going to happen? We are doing well,

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but we have had the huge decrease in the grant allowance. It has been

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cut by nearly two thirds and a one allocation for the next four years

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is �45 million and with that we're meant to build 3,000 homes. They

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have said you can go up the 80 % of the rent and value? Will that be

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helpful? Not particularly. The Raleigh in some areas we can do

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that. We would like to see a lot of different ideas Brotton. Timothy,

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the government talks a good game about this. But the figures say

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that this is the lowest number of homes actually built since the

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second world war. A I do think you build houses are very important. So

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why are they not happening? We will, we have a lot of economic problems

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at the moment. But what about these budget cuts? The empty properties

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in England, that is an awful lot of properties. They are being built,

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but not being properly utilised. I think that is the priority. Apart

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from you build houses, it is important that these houses get

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renovated and occupied. As it said, where they are located is often

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important. The trouble is that there are often in places where

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people do not want to live, which is part of the problem. But surely

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cutting the funding is not going to help? He yes, I appreciate that. We

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know what we could not pay as much as we used to. Bobby a pity a lot

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of money into the new homes bonus. We are going to try and help local

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government in particular to bring housing stock back into use and I

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think that is the sensible approach. The Labour Party record on this it

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was very poor at as well? Yes, the labours record on this left a lot

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to be desired, but the coalition government have not dealt with us

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at all. There is a growing crisis in the lack of affordable housing

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or houses to rent. In our region, there are 90,000 families on a or

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waiting list. What is the solution? Park of the solution is, for

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example, the Sunderland local housing association has come up

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with a model which they have presented to the Housing Minister,

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providing the king get the funding from the banks and financial

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institutions, to provide low-cost housing for people to buy from rent.

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We were due see one-off tax on bankers bonuses to build 25,000

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euros and put 100,000 people back to work. Bill, the bank bonuses

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going to go everywhere isn't it? The reality is that we do want to

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work together responsibly. If I have no problem with new-build or

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some of the points about having gradual purchases of one kind of

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another and getting financial institutions involved is very

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important. But at the end of the day, the empty properties - 300,000

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- we really have to bring them back into use. Now, what else has been

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going on this week Hmm. I know let us get that nice Mark Denten to

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tell us. Here he is with the Week in 60 Seconds. Do it and County

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Council will decide next week whether to close 14 village halls

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and community centres any cost- saving move and persuade local

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people to take over 100 others. Teenagers without a job will get

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extra help from the Government's Youth contract. More than �8

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million will be spent in the North East. Jarrow MP has classed with

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the government in the Commons over the NHS shake-up. People who work

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in the National Health sell this see this for what it is - if a

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Conservative plan for privatisation. Annie sports centre has opened at

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University of Durham. And the campaign to bring back the name of

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St James' Park. The Parliament motion was put forward by the

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Gateshead N P asked Newcastle's owners to think again about calling

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it the sports director arena. We are not changing the name of our

:52:50.:53:00.

were short! No, all this about cuts in police. The impact of this is

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going to come for years to come? yes, this is going to be a hard

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time for the police force and local authorities. Some can say they can

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manage. She surely she has to say something like that? Well, not

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necessarily. I mean, Durham has just built a bus shelter at great

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expense for a writ which has not been used for years. Look at the

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community centres mentioned there. It says it is going to use the

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money for absolute priority projects. He is, they are

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projecting that between now and 2017 they will lose 40 % of their

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spending power. It is this North- South divide. Is the Government's

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support for local government expenditure fair? It seems as if

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the authorities in the North East, particularly mind which have the

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biggest problems with deprivation, are shouldering the biggest of the

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burden when it comes to cuts. The figure as to suggest that these

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other councils to set do it better. It is appalling to suggest there is

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anything political and this. Life does not work like that. What has

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to happen is that there has to be more efficiency. There has to be

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cost cutting because we're in a difficult economic situation and I

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am afraid this has been borne by everybody. I do not agree that

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we're taking a major burden there. Everyone in the country is

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suffering from the last government. I am sure will disagree.

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Unfortunately, we do not have time to talk to him about that!

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And that is about it from us. We are back half and hour earlier next

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Sunday, at 11.30am, when my guests will be the MP for Redcar Ian

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Swales and Newcastle's Chi Onwurah. In the meantime, do not forget my

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blog. That is at bbc.co.uk/richardmoss. There is

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more on Mary Portas and Maryport there.

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