23/06/2013 Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria


23/06/2013

Andrew Neil and Richard Moss with the latest political news, interviews and debate.


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the Chancellor prepares to answer bail -- unveil his spending plans,

:36:43.:36:51.

we ask if it is time to forget about upgrading the A1. And our local

:36:51.:36:55.

museums are under pressure. Will they be forced to introduce charges

:36:55.:37:02.

to survive? Lots to talk about with my guests.

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Let's start with the men and women who sought and deliver our letters.

:37:07.:37:13.

Royal mail is to be privatised but this week, postal workers voted to

:37:13.:37:23.
:37:23.:37:24.

fight it, despite the offer of free shares. I shuddered a worker

:37:24.:37:30.

recently and it was incredibly hard work. Did it give you an insight

:37:30.:37:35.

into whether the government is right or wrong on this? It did. I

:37:35.:37:38.

discussed the changes with over the last year. We've had a new chief

:37:38.:37:42.

executive who have made a great difference. The Royal mail is making

:37:42.:37:45.

a great difference. The Royal mail is making profits now. Why would we

:37:45.:37:50.

want to take this act of the private sector? It was a privatisation too

:37:50.:37:54.

far for Margaret Thatcher, to put it into the private sector. Why would

:37:54.:38:00.

we want to take this out of the public sector? The workers could

:38:00.:38:07.

have shares. Only 10% of the shares are going to the workers. I think

:38:07.:38:12.

that says something about how they value the workers. It also does say

:38:12.:38:18.

that the fact 96% voted against it, a bribe of �1500 is not enough to

:38:19.:38:23.

make them give up their investment in the public service ethos of the

:38:23.:38:30.

Royal mail, which we want to maintain. This is taking a risk with

:38:30.:38:34.

a public service which has been in public hands for 450 years, just to

:38:34.:38:38.

raise some money for the Chancellor. The Royal mail needs to be

:38:39.:38:42.

independent of the government if it is going to have the finance for the

:38:42.:38:46.

future. There is a guarantee that it is still going to be able to deliver

:38:46.:38:49.

a letter anywhere in the country for the same price. To be able to do

:38:49.:38:56.

that, it needs the private capital behind it. The Royal mail has become

:38:57.:39:03.

more profitable in recent years and that is certainly true. It is

:39:03.:39:06.

because it is on a journey to privatisation. The government has

:39:06.:39:11.

also helped by taking the pensions of the Royal mail which is -- was

:39:11.:39:17.

costing a lot. We need to go further.

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We will come back and this another time. Let's move on to the top

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story. The government and its attempt to try and head off a

:39:26.:39:31.

closure threat to the National Railway Museum in York. Ministers

:39:31.:39:38.

are thought to have reached a deal to keep museums open, albeit with

:39:38.:39:41.

significant budget cuts. But museums across the region are facing a

:39:41.:39:46.

financial squeeze which may force admonition charges. -- admission

:39:46.:39:50.

charges. Built in the town where passenger

:39:50.:39:57.

railway began, locomotion is a museum with a big appeal to railway

:39:58.:40:02.

enthusiasts and families. This offshoot of the National Railway

:40:02.:40:07.

Museum opened ten years ago. But its future and that of its big sister in

:40:07.:40:12.

York had been placed under threat because of funding cuts. This week,

:40:12.:40:17.

after protests from locals and MPs, a deal was struck with ministers.

:40:17.:40:22.

Both Railway museums are expected to stay open but they will face cuts of

:40:22.:40:28.

at least 5%. So is the local MP satisfied that it is going to stay

:40:28.:40:33.

open in the long term? Not until we find out what is going on. It's not

:40:33.:40:37.

just a question of whether it is open or closed, it's also very

:40:37.:40:42.

important that we maintain free entry. Of course, a 5% cut is a

:40:42.:40:48.

significant that because it comes on top of cuts in previous years. It is

:40:48.:40:53.

one of the National museums and in the case of this one, a third of the

:40:53.:40:56.

visitors are local. Local people are not going to visit several times

:40:56.:41:01.

over if it costs them five quid every time. Free entry is also

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extremely important. It has been a tough time for regions -- museums

:41:07.:41:17.
:41:17.:41:37.

showcasing the North East 's private exhibition in science and

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technology... This boat was the fastest thing on the seven seas.

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This is one of 13 venues run by Tyne & Wear museums. The cuts have

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already had an impact here. It might mean making efficiency savings, in

:41:57.:42:02.

some cases we've had to look at opening hours and we will start to

:42:02.:42:09.

charge for some services. We may start to charge for exhibitions or

:42:09.:42:14.

activities. The five councils in Tyne & Wear has long worked together

:42:14.:42:19.

to jointly pay for the museum service. Now, Sunderland Council is

:42:19.:42:24.

pulling out that arrangement and going it alone. The aim is to

:42:24.:42:30.

concentrate what many the council has on ones like this. We want to

:42:30.:42:40.
:42:40.:42:40.

develop more local all -- locally orientated exhibitions. It really

:42:40.:42:43.

opens it up to the community and allows us to do things in a

:42:43.:42:49.

different way. With little money to go around, museums are battling

:42:50.:42:53.

other sectors like arts and libraries for what resources are

:42:53.:42:57.

available. The question for politicians is, economically and

:42:57.:43:02.

socially, how much value is there in heritage?

:43:02.:43:06.

How can museums best cope with what is a tough economic climate? I'm

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joined by the president of the Society of antiquaries. The obvious

:43:13.:43:18.

thing to do is to charge but is that the right thing to do? I think it

:43:18.:43:22.

would be a major mistake. There was a strong argument for charging for

:43:22.:43:29.

temporary exhibitions or special activities. I recently acted as a

:43:29.:43:33.

Stewart -- Stewart and it was fascinating to see the number of

:43:34.:43:37.

people to come -- and came in, a wide range of people, would not be

:43:37.:43:42.

able to afford to go on a regular basis. And yet they were getting so

:43:43.:43:50.

much out of their visit. It is cutting opening hours a better

:43:50.:43:54.

solution? That's a difficult one. Our biggest problem in the

:43:54.:43:58.

north-east of England is attempting any of the museums are properly

:43:58.:44:01.

funded already. None of them have a full complement of stuff already.

:44:01.:44:06.

They've been having cuts for year after year. It's very difficult to

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see exactly where they are going to make any more cuts. You cannot blame

:44:11.:44:17.

councils though. There are choices between schools and museums.

:44:17.:44:20.

cannot blame them but one does have to think about what museums do for

:44:20.:44:27.

the community. In February 2011, there was an economic assessment

:44:27.:44:32.

which showed that for every �1 invested in cultural organisations

:44:32.:44:38.

in Newcastle, �5 was generated. That is serious returns. It's the museums

:44:39.:44:44.

that attract tourists to the area and tourism does play an enormous

:44:44.:44:49.

part of the generation of this area. The government is trying to get more

:44:49.:44:59.
:44:59.:45:00.

private benefactors to help. I don't know many. It's a problem. We are in

:45:00.:45:04.

a recession. People don't have a lot of spare cash but there are ways of

:45:04.:45:14.

giving money. People don't tend to give of -- give money in their

:45:14.:45:22.

wills. Frankly, museums need the cash. Do you think museums will

:45:22.:45:27.

close? Some of them may have two and that would be very sad for the local

:45:27.:45:37.
:45:37.:45:49.

The reasoning behind it is Sunderland has three museums in the

:45:50.:45:52.

partnership. There is a feeling that it needs to make more of them, that

:45:52.:45:57.

the museums have a great cultural value but they must bring people

:45:58.:46:05.

into the city for economic reasons as well. Over the past few years,

:46:05.:46:10.

Sunderland hasn't had as much focus on its museums as Newcastle has with

:46:10.:46:12.

the discovery Museum which is a massive attraction in the

:46:12.:46:22.

north-east. Is that something you can understand? I don't think Sunder

:46:22.:46:28.

land was subsidising museums in Newcastle. I'm sad that Sunder land

:46:28.:46:35.

doesn't want to continue to be part of... Every museum has had to

:46:35.:46:40.

respond to cuts in its own way. I regret it. I think we need to

:46:40.:46:47.

support ourselves as a region. It is a decision for Sunderland. Is it

:46:47.:46:54.

short-sighted for Newcastle to cut funding to other museums? I agree

:46:54.:46:58.

with so much of what Lindsay has said about not just money it

:46:58.:47:05.

generates through tourism but also by inspiring young people. Is it

:47:05.:47:08.

naive for the council to say we're not going to fund it any more?

:47:08.:47:13.

is not what the council are saying. When there is �100 million of cuts

:47:13.:47:18.

from government and it has to make to civil -- difficult decisions, and

:47:18.:47:24.

the council did consult on the fairest way of doing it... They've

:47:24.:47:28.

set up in Newcastle of culture fund which isn't the same amount of money

:47:28.:47:32.

as was there before but it will attract more money and it will

:47:32.:47:36.

support our continuing arts and heritage, and also the economic

:47:36.:47:42.

benefits as well. The accusation is that the blame for this lies with

:47:42.:47:52.

the government cuts. We are where we are with the cuts, with all the

:47:52.:47:57.

major political parties. We need to move on and look at choices under

:47:57.:48:04.

the ways of doing things. accusation I'm making is that the

:48:04.:48:10.

government is not valuing this. does value them that there are other

:48:10.:48:16.

competing things. There's the NHS, benefits, defence, transport.

:48:16.:48:21.

is the future for museums? They have to compete with that. Different

:48:21.:48:25.

people will have different priorities. I like going to museums

:48:25.:48:28.

but the people who also pay taxes might not that be bothered and they

:48:28.:48:35.

have to be considered as well. just come -- reject completely

:48:35.:48:38.

decision that the Labour Party agrees with the way in which this

:48:38.:48:48.
:48:48.:49:05.

for life in Newcastle, that survives without any public funding

:49:05.:49:12.

whatsoever. There are models where it can work. We need a diverse range

:49:12.:49:17.

of museums. The Centre for life is brilliant. It is rather expensive

:49:17.:49:20.

for children and families particularly to go on a regular

:49:20.:49:24.

basis. It has big, blockbuster exhibitions which are great but I

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remember going to the science Museum in exhibitions park on a regular

:49:29.:49:33.

basis, it was free and inspired me to go into science and engineering.

:49:33.:49:36.

That is what we want for our children. We need to maintain that

:49:36.:49:46.

in these difficult times. We need partners. If the government is

:49:46.:49:49.

serious about private money coming in, why doesn't it make it much

:49:49.:49:53.

easier for people to give it? think they should. That is something

:49:53.:49:58.

we should look at, making it easier for people to donate to museums.

:49:58.:50:06.

breaks? Possibly. To sponsor museums. To have exhibitions, to

:50:06.:50:09.

advertise and to market sooner get new streams of money coming in the

:50:09.:50:14.

museums so we can keep up the very, very valued cultural offer but also

:50:14.:50:20.

that it is financially sustainable. Let's move on to the first woman to

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run the Northern TUC. There is a new plan to get seven of the biggest

:50:24.:50:26.

councils in the north-east working together. With those and the rest of

:50:27.:50:35.

the week 's political stories, here is David.

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Seven north-east councils are to work together on boosting economic

:50:41.:50:48.

growth. It will allow councils to have more power over transport and

:50:48.:50:54.

spending. Attempts to save the second

:50:54.:50:56.

Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers have been raised in

:50:56.:51:01.

Parliament by the MP for North Tyneside. What message does the

:51:01.:51:03.

Secretary of state have for the 10,000 north-east and is who signed

:51:03.:51:10.

a position now with Downing Street to save the regiment? We've had to

:51:10.:51:13.

make very difficult decisions in relation to the structure of the

:51:13.:51:18.

army, as we draw down its size to match our ambitions to our budgets.

:51:18.:51:23.

York council has admitted the news football and rugby stadium will not

:51:23.:51:30.

be built on time. The discovery of newts means 2014 will not be met.

:51:30.:51:36.

Finally, the cost of Cumbria hosting the torch relay was revealed. It was

:51:36.:51:41.

just short of �250,000. The government is spending review is

:51:41.:51:45.

published on Wednesday and the counsellor needs to find �11.5

:51:45.:51:52.

billion of cuts. No small task. -- the Chancellor. George Osborne will

:51:52.:51:55.

also announce some spending on infrastructure like roads and

:51:55.:51:59.

railways. I went out to find out what he might be able to get for his

:51:59.:52:04.

money. Welcome to Northumberland is only

:52:05.:52:11.

one dance, quick, quick, slow. Many have made a road safety case for

:52:11.:52:16.

making this a dual carriageway as of this route. Hardy emigres have made

:52:16.:52:19.

fishing equipment since 1872. Proud of their history, it also likes to

:52:19.:52:24.

be proud of the local road network. If you're looking to invest in

:52:24.:52:27.

Northumberland, you would worry about the A1 at the moment. You

:52:27.:52:31.

would worry less if it was a dual carriageway. Tourism would benefit

:52:31.:52:39.

because it would make assets -- access easier. There's a strong

:52:39.:52:43.

economic benefit. Whether it is actually being measured, I wouldn't

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know. We are an international company. Have difficulty attracting

:52:47.:52:50.

good people from Tyneside because they don't want to get stuck on the

:52:50.:52:54.

A1. But successive governments have done absolutely nothing. How about

:52:55.:53:00.

another option? This is a rail line in County Durham, or what is left of

:53:00.:53:05.

it. It was shut 22 years ago. But it has an unlikely champion who wants

:53:05.:53:10.

it open. He grew up nearby and he couldn't understand why they were no

:53:10.:53:15.

trains. Now, this 17-year-old has started a campaign to get them back.

:53:15.:53:22.

Is this nostalgia? Or economics? reporter couple of years ago said

:53:22.:53:27.

they were going to be 2000 passengers per day using the line.

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People are needed to run the trains, people needed to man the stations,

:53:32.:53:35.

everything like that, running the local -- when the local signalling

:53:36.:53:42.

as well. The benefits in many ways, jobs massively. So perhaps the

:53:43.:53:46.

government should look elsewhere. The Sage in Gateshead is already a

:53:46.:53:50.

conference venue. But with limits. It is currently missing business

:53:50.:53:55.

because it doesn't have enough space. There is a plan to extend the

:53:55.:54:00.

facilities into the car park. That would attract the next mated 75

:54:00.:54:03.

extra conferences a year, create hundreds of jobs and pump millions

:54:03.:54:09.

of pounds into the local economy. The bill for that, �30 million.

:54:09.:54:12.

Perhaps we need to think beyond bricks and mortar. This business

:54:12.:54:16.

Centre near Sunderland is already generating jobs but operate --

:54:16.:54:19.

offering the best broadband connections. For companies like this

:54:19.:54:25.

one, that is vital. David and Claire now employ five people and are

:54:25.:54:27.

growing fast. They believe investment in Internet

:54:27.:54:34.

infrastructure could pay dividends. If we look 30 years back, we had a

:54:34.:54:40.

really good Manufacturing and natural resources in the north-east.

:54:40.:54:43.

Those are all gone now. We need to replace them with something and I

:54:43.:54:47.

think this is called the technological revolution now. The

:54:47.:54:51.

north-east needs to take advantage of that and make it a great region

:54:51.:54:59.

again. Road, rail, buildings, broadband. No shortage of ideas on

:54:59.:55:02.

how to boost the economy but will any of them strike it lucky in this

:55:02.:55:07.

week 's spending review? Let's assume the Chancellor is

:55:07.:55:11.

feeling generous. If he had to do choose between making a dual

:55:11.:55:15.

carriageway of the A1 or broadband here which would you choose? The

:55:15.:55:22.

Chancellor should give the choice to the local authorities, perhaps this

:55:22.:55:27.

new combined authority, to make it based on economic benefit. There is

:55:27.:55:32.

a good argument for making the A1 a dual carriageway. We have to make

:55:32.:55:36.

sure that the benefits would not also pass to Scotland, which has a

:55:36.:55:45.

much greater investment -- inward investment. But broadband, the

:55:45.:55:49.

current situation is complete chaos and I know businesses in Newcastle

:55:49.:55:53.

who are crying out for faster speeds. I think investing in

:55:53.:56:01.

broadband has got to be a priority. Particularly for small businesses

:56:01.:56:05.

and our regional economy. north-east chamber of commerce

:56:05.:56:09.

believes making a dual carriageway out of the A1 is the number one

:56:09.:56:15.

priority. That will not benefit Sunderland, will it? It is a

:56:15.:56:19.

national project. We have two capital cities that are not united

:56:19.:56:24.

by a motorway. It's important that that happens. What would you choose?

:56:24.:56:30.

I think you need a mixture of both. I agree that we need more local

:56:30.:56:32.

discretion of infrastructure decisions but I think superfast

:56:32.:56:36.

broadband has got to be an absolute priority. We are a region that we

:56:36.:56:42.

are in a global economic race. We must absolutely be at the top.

:56:42.:56:45.

problem is that the history of the coalition suggests what we are

:56:45.:56:49.

likely to get is very little. cake has got to be divided up

:56:49.:56:55.

somehow and you can only spend what you've got. It is not about

:56:55.:56:59.

superfast broadband actually, because we haven't even got decent

:57:00.:57:03.

broadband in vast swathes of the area. That is what small businesses

:57:03.:57:11.

need. It wouldn't take a huge amount to get small businesses off. As the

:57:11.:57:19.

north-east done enough to make these schemes shovel ready? Have we solve

:57:19.:57:26.

the case to get the investment? Absolutely. We've had a -- economic

:57:26.:57:36.
:57:36.:57:41.

review after economic review, setting out the case. We have

:57:41.:57:47.

said... I've seen the documents that Newcastle City Council sending out

:57:47.:57:52.

about broadband. Remember that 80% of all transport funding is south of

:57:52.:57:58.

Nottingham. Because our economy is so lopsided, because we don't have a

:57:58.:58:03.

regional authority any more, we don't get the attention and the

:58:03.:58:07.

independent assessment of our economic needs. We can always do

:58:08.:58:13.

more, if that is what you are saying. But we are too far away to

:58:13.:58:19.

get the same level of attention as London does for example. Does the

:58:19.:58:23.

Chancellor need to make a priority of the north-east because of our own

:58:23.:58:26.

-- because of our unemployment rate? There is the need for infrastructure

:58:26.:58:31.

investment. I think so. Infrastructure is the one big thing

:58:31.:58:35.

in terms of spending that would benefit the north-east. More here

:58:35.:58:39.

perhaps than the south. Well, we mustn't do anything to damage the

:58:39.:58:43.

south. That would be wrong to do that. But we must also do everything

:58:43.:58:48.

we can to help the regions. We are not like in Germany where you have

:58:48.:58:52.

strong cities outside the capital, strong regions that make sure those

:58:52.:59:01.

regions can cope independently. more cuts to councils. Can

:59:01.:59:05.

Sunderland survive that? Well, they've also -- already made �100

:59:05.:59:10.

million of cuts and that has gone through. Can it survive more?I

:59:10.:59:18.

think they can. There is enough that can be done. That's about it from

:59:18.:59:23.

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