23/06/2013 Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria


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,


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


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


to survive? Lots to talk about with my guests.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


costing a lot. We need to go further.


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


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


closure threat to the National Railway Museum in York. Ministers


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


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


financial squeeze which may force admonition charges. -- admission


charges. Built in the town where passenger


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


enthusiasts and families. This offshoot of the National Railway


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


showcasing the North East 's private exhibition in science and


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


other sectors like arts and libraries for what resources are


available. The question for politicians is, economically and


socially, how much value is there in heritage?


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


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


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


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


temporary exhibitions or special activities. I recently acted as a


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


councils though. There are choices between schools and museums.


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


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


which showed that for every �1 invested in cultural organisations


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


The reasoning behind it is Sunderland has three museums in the


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


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


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


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


the discovery Museum which is a massive attraction in the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


support our continuing arts and heritage, and also the economic


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


people will have different priorities. I like going to museums


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


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


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


for life in Newcastle, that survives without any public funding


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


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


for children and families particularly to go on a regular


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the week 's political stories, here is David.


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


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


spending. Attempts to save the second


Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers have been raised in


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


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


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


make very difficult decisions in relation to the structure of the


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


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


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


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


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


published on Wednesday and the counsellor needs to find �11.5


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


also announce some spending on infrastructure like roads and


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


money. Welcome to Northumberland is only


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


know. We are an international company. Have difficulty attracting


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Centre near Sunderland is already generating jobs but operate --


offering the best broadband connections. For companies like this


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


growing fast. They believe investment in Internet


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


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


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


think this is called the technological revolution now. The


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


current situation is complete chaos and I know businesses in Newcastle


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


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


and our regional economy. north-east chamber of commerce


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


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


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


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


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


discretion of infrastructure decisions but I think superfast


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


independent assessment of our economic needs. We can always do


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


regions can cope independently. more cuts to councils. Can


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


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


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


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