16/12/2012 Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria


16/12/2012

Andrew Neil and Richard Moss with the latest political news, interviews and debate including transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin.


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In the North-East. How much longer well our councils be able to afford

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displays of civic pride like Christmas lights and flowerbeds in

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2170 seconds

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We start with the welcome news that unemployment is down again by

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11,000 in the North East. It has also fallen in Cumbria. Before we

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get too carried away, it is still the highest rate in the country and

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public sector jobs are still going. Tom Blenkinsop, we may have the

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highest rate in the country, but it is falling fast? It has fallen

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faster him this region than other regions. But we also have to look

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at the adjusted rates. There is still a severe problems with the

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economy, particularly the regional economy. He did not is that the

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figures for your own concerted -- constituency... Why is it proving

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difficult, more difficult, to cut it in this region? It is an

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indicator of the national economy. There are anomalies of the them

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back the figures. I want to know how we get those statistics. Unpaid

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work experience is being counted as employment. That is an issue that

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we need to closely examine with the government. Fiona haul, the

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headline figure is falling. trend is continuing to go down, it

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is not a one off will stop it is the largest a drop in youth

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unemployment since 2001 because at the coalition government policies

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are tackling this. There is that the youth contract, the Work

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programme and new jobs being created. We know that a lot of

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public sectors are still to go. Lots of our councils are planning

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redundancies. The trend is in the right direction and we have made a

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good start. We will carry on putting programmes in place to make

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sure that there are alternative opportunities for people who do

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lose their jobs in the public sector. It is about creating more

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jobs. It is difficult for many young people to get into work, so

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it we have to make sure that those programmes continue. For the moment,

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thank you. Our top story this week is the rise

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in rail fares. Passengers are being warned of and above the rate of

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inflation increased in real fears. We have got reaction to proposed

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there rises from travellers on Tyneside. Passengers should pay

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some of the cost. Real fears are fairly steep. They can be difficult

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to pay for, but it depends on the balance of subsidy versus what the

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clients pay. I commute four days a week into York and it would affect

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we pretty badly. I think that there should be something in place an

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order to keep that from happening. I think it is better for the

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environment if more people use the trains. I think the users of the

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service paying more than the general taxpayer makes sense.

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whole way they have gone with privatisation does not work. Prices

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have been increasing for so many years. You do not get as good a

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service as you debt in the past. I think the rail travellers is taxed

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enough and it should be a burden shared. Let's speak to Craig

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Johnston of the RMT. He has been lobbying MPs in London this week.

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Is it not the fairest way to ensure that the biggest contribution to

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affairs comes from people who use the trains? We need to look at the

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way the industry is structured and the costs of that. If you look in

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real terms, the privatised rail industry is getting around three

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times more than British Rail in real terms in terms of subsidy. The

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taxpayers lose out. Passengers lose out. We end up with train fares in

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Cumbria other North East of England that are prohibitive and drive

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people back into the car. The money has to come from somewhere however?

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The train operating companies are blaming the government. the

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industry needs to be denationalised? But that will

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divert resources away from what we need, which is an improved rail

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service. You can do away with a rail franchises are they come up

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for renewal. Let's look at another waste. The debacle around their

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west-coast mainline has caused millions upon millions of pounds.

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�100 million thrown down the drain. That is a total waste and that has

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basically given you an indication of what rail privatisation has been

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since it started. But passenger numbers are still rising so people

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are still prepared to do this. People do not have alternatives.

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They have to use the railway so they are being ripped off. To get

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into London before 10 o'clock, it will cost you around three had a

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�30. -- �330. The reality of it is, if you want the railway to work for

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passengers and communities, they have to be affordable.

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Privatisation has been a rip-off. The metro dispute, you what

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cleaners to get three transport? Where is the cost in giving

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cleaners who work on the metro system a free pass? These are

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cleaners who on the minimum wage. This dispute was also about wages.

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At a time when the Labour Party is saying we should be encouraging a

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living wage, it was said... It has to be paid for, yes, but workers

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are being treated... There will be more action on this? There will be

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more action and it will continue until we get a fair and reasonable

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deal. Nexus should give those cleaners a free pass. It would not

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cost them a penny. Do you think it is acceptable to go back to the

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increases that are threatened this year? We would like fares to go up

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according to the rate of inflation. The Liberal Democrats have said

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that this week. We have managed to get it down to a rate of inflation

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plus 1%. What we are managing to do with that money is a massive

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investment in a electrification. We all know that it actually will

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create thousands of jobs in the North East in the long run. Ideally,

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fears it would not be so high, but we are getting value out of it.

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argument is that it could have been a lot worse. It was inflation plus

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3%? Taking a ball was just said about electrification of the

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railway, we have seen already that north of you, there is not

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electrification happening. For a North East rail travellers,

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particularly in my area, there is no improvement whatsoever in terms

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of service. In terms of the fears, do you think that their visors are

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acceptable and if not, what is the alternative? We have to go back to

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the table and look at the policy and how fears are cockily to. What

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is not acceptable is to waste all �100 million on the West Coast Main

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Line. We have to look at the rail system and looking other

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nationalised system where there is public ownership as a model.

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that what you favour? No, but it should be used as the benchmark.

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This is a living standards issue. Petrol and diesel is going up,

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energy bills are going up, inflation for the average person is

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going up it is a crunch issue for the economy. The argument is that

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that we are going to get nothing for this extra money in the North

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East? We are getting it because we are getting a lecture vacation

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elsewhere. -- electrification. no improvement to suburban

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services? We will keep pushing for that, but you do not get everything

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straightaway. We are getting something out of this. Do you think

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the franchise system deserves to continue? It has had problems, but

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I do not think the answer is nationalisation. I do agree that it

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is a public advantage that people use the trains. We would like to

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see real fears rise in with inflation or less than inflation,

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but that is not where we are in the current economic crisis.

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Thank you. Christmas lights in our towns and cities apart of their

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festive season. But for how much longer? Local councils are facing

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tough budget decisions. In austerity Britain, is there a place

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for demonstrations of civic pride? Middlesbrough's Albert Park. Neat

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flowerbeds, attractive sculptures, for 146 years, the very epitome of

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civic pride. This place was set up all those years ago by the town's

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first MP Henry Bolckow. The idea was simple. A people's park. A free

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facility where the townspeople could escape the area's many

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industries. But today, just like then, grim reality was just around

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the corner. This week, Middlesbrough Council are looking

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at budget cuts of �14 million, 200 jobs to go as well. Flowers and

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parks are all very nice, but in this age of austerity, can we

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really afford civic pride? Middlesbrough Council does plan to

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cut �125,000 from budgets which cover parks and flowerbeds. But

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that will still leave several thousand pounds spent on things

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that the council does not legally have to provide at all.

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I think that we have got to listen to what the public say. They like

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to see a nice pleasant area, a green area and the council to keep

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it in good condition. The actual cost of providing the flowers in

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Middlesbrough is �40,000 per year, but in addition to that, we do get

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in �30,000 sponsorship from businesses. I think we have to try

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and afford civic pride. But the way we deliver it has to be done

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differently. 16 miles away, another council are still paying for a

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service that it does not legally have to. This is Darlington Civic

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Theatre, a couple of years ago it was threatened with closure. While

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a nearby council Arts Centre has shut, this place has stayed open.

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Two years ago, we were spending �450,000 supporting this building.

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But with some accountancy moves and by driving management costs down,

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at the moment, this facility cost us around �100,000 a year and we

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are looking to bring those costs down further. These are not bolt-on

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extras as far as the people of Darlington are concerned. If you

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asked them what does their community mean, what is it about

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Darlington they love, what adds value to lives? I think they would

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say this theatre. But the optional extras these

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councils will pay for also include making the local high street look

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all Christmasy. Turning the centre of Newcastle into a winder

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wonderland costs the council �140,000 a year. But with �90

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million of savings to find, the council is looking to cut the cost

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of Christmas. It will continue to pay for Christmas lights until 2013,

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but after that, it will be up to commercial sponsors. That means, if

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you are a company, your name can be up there. The council says even

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Grey's Monument could carry to temporary sponsorship to pay for

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Christmas lights. Private firms already pay �50,000 a year towards

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additional decoration in Newcastle. At a time of austerity, should we

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expect our councils to shell out for fairy lights? I think that the

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council owes it to the people. They get plenty of money. I am sure

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there's other areas they could take it from. It is a bit disappointing,

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isn't it? In your view, it is the job of the council to pay for the

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Christmas lights? Yes. They look after the city. If the alternative

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is having everything sponsored by people, then yes. The council

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should keep paying for it? I would like them to, yes. But the Labour

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council's Christmas cuts have had backing from some of their fiercest

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critics. The Lib Dems say they have made the right choices.

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constituents talk to me about their concerns about library closures and

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respite care centres. I know it is important to keep the Christmas

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shoppers coming into town, but on this particular occasion, we could

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be making savings in this particular area rather than the

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money I would like to see put into my local library certainly. Whether

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it is sparkling lights or pretty flowerbeds, for years, our councils

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have paid for stuff that makes us feel better about where we live,

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but for how much longer? Tom Blenkinsop, can you justify

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spending on Christmas lights when you were having to cause libraries

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and plate -- closed libraries and care homes? I can understand the

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logic... The what about parks? Parks are a far more permanent

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feature than Christmas lights. In my constituency, they have always

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clubbed together and got local businesses involved to pay for the

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Christmas lights. It depends on the local set up and the locality. But

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I think Newcastle has had the right priorities in terms of local public

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services for people. Why should we expect councils to pay for these

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things? In the past, generous benefactors and local this as

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people had put her hands in their pocket. Looking at corporate

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sponsorship is a sensible move. But it is always about public and

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private partnerships. You will always have some public input in

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terms of the infrastructure. But between Christmas lights and saving

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a library, I would prioritise the library. The Government has made no

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allowance for this. Christmas lights can be a economically

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important to many towns. This is about quality of life. There is a

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role for traders, even in small communities. In fact, in local

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communities, in small communities, it is the community that have done

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it. I think it is reasonable to get sponsorship to do the Christmas

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lights. I do think with parks and gardens, there is a different thing

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to bear in mind in that everybody benefits from a public space. If

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you allow a public space to become neglected, it is an invitation to

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vandalism. But the choices are harsh. It could be a choice between

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maintaining a park and closing a care home. Some councils have

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managed not to close the libraries. There are difficult choices to make

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and I think that the councils do what they can. Darlington Council

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decided to keep his theatre for economic reasons as much as

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anything else. But when it comes to public art, can you justify it?

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That was seen as a public investment, to try to attract

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visitors to the area. They are decisions made by the local

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authority to try to do that. will they be able to do that in the

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future? It is very hard for local authorities to balance those

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budgets. They are not dictating the budgets. In many areas, local

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authorities are simply the messengers. But different councils

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approaching it in different ways? That is for the electorate to

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decide. They will decide which party runs are the local authority.

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We are facing such hairy cuts, -- such a heavy cuts... Public

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services will be hit even harder. There is a risk that something like

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the Angel of the North would not happen now. It got an Arts Council

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grant. It was not done that project manager for the council.

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council was a driver? It supported it. But they supported it because

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it was not public money going in. The cuts are there because the

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economy was in a mess. There are other things. The Baltic, the Sage,

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the Millennium Bridge might never have happened. Councils have to

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decide and they have difficult decisions. Some things you do, the

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ad revenue and bring visitors in and that is important. Thank you

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very much. The pressure on budgets and mean that many people are

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trying to raise extra of money. They are doing it in a variety of

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ways. Inside out has been investigating some of the ways they

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are trying to bridge that funding gap and you can see that tomorrow.

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It is our final programme before Christmas. You repay we could use

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some best of music on our 60 seconds this week. But

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unfortunately, we are not allowed The population of the North East

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has grown by 2%. That is since 2001. 400 civil service jobs should stay

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in Darlington. This is a critical decision for our time. Business

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continuity, retention of skills and the local economy, I trust that the

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department will decide to keep these jobs in Middlesborough.

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new MP, and debate Donald, -- and the McDonald made a speech about

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