30/06/2013 Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria


30/06/2013

Andrew Neil and Richard Moss with the latest political news, interviews and debate, including the latest on fears of power blackouts with energy minister Michael Fallon.


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of the show. This week, a warning that

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Middlesbrough could be heading towards bankruptcy if cuts continue.

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Durham MP Roberta Blackman-Woods and North East Euro MP Fiona Hall join

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me in the studio to give us their take on the spending review.

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And they are here on loan from tomorrow, but is it time the North

:33:41.:33:43.

East got the Lindisfarne Gospels back for good?

:33:43.:33:46.

Let us start with the Mayor of Middlesbrough Ray Mallon, who has

:33:46.:33:48.

hit out at Communities Secretary Eric Pickles for failing to

:33:48.:33:53.

understand the scale of the problems facing the town. He warned that

:33:53.:34:00.

further cuts could push Middlesbrough towards bankruptcy.

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These cuts are too quick and too deep. They are savage to a place

:34:05.:34:12.

like Middlesbrough. As it stands, we are heading towards bankruptcy. This

:34:13.:34:18.

is happening all over the country to local authorities. I am sure they

:34:18.:34:26.

will echo my comments. Look at the brass tacks. The budgets are

:34:26.:34:34.

re-juice yet the age of the adult population is growing. The amount of

:34:34.:34:44.
:34:44.:34:46.

people needed here is growing. We can estimate that they ended future

:34:46.:34:52.

years, the vast majority of our budget will be spent on adult social

:34:52.:34:58.

care. It is complete nonsense what the communities secretary is seen.

:34:58.:35:07.

He needs to see at first hand what people are having to live with. I

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stand for value for money, efficiency and effectiveness. But I

:35:13.:35:21.

am not a magician. Unfortunately, it seems that Eric sometimes thinks he

:35:21.:35:31.
:35:31.:35:33.

is a magician and can just weave his magic wand. Will councils be able to

:35:33.:35:40.

cope with this? Well, we have seen this before and councils have

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managed to adapt. We are not getting the full story here. There has been

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a storm money for many aspects of council spending, such as the adult

:35:52.:36:02.

social care that Ray was talking about the. Sorry is not telling the

:36:02.:36:12.
:36:12.:36:13.

truth in this? I understand that many councils are under pressure to

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make the cuts required, but there are also opportunities for them to

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come together and share costs like some have done. The actual amount of

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spend that councils have is actually only down by 2%, which is not

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catastrophic, is it? I think what we should ask is why they were out the

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dispatch box seeking more cuts. To me, it just shows that they have

:36:45.:36:52.

failed. And the trouble is that the people who'd be the brunt of that

:36:52.:36:56.

feel you are communities, particularly in the North. And it is

:36:56.:37:01.

taking away from the councils who have the greatest needs. The

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government is complacent and has no regard for the deal difficulties of

:37:06.:37:16.
:37:16.:37:16.

people. People rely on council services. But when you look at the

:37:17.:37:20.

cuts in some government departments are as high as 10%, surely local

:37:20.:37:30.
:37:30.:37:34.

councils have to take their share of them? What we have seen is the cuts

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being applied very unfairly. It is mostly northern councils which are

:37:38.:37:42.

suffering the most. So what can our town halls do to

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save money, apart from cut front-line services? Some believe

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they need to think more radically, by sharing work with neighbouring

:37:47.:37:49.

councils, or perhaps we should consider scrapping some local

:37:50.:37:59.
:38:00.:38:03.

authorities altogether. A council printing works in stock and. These

:38:03.:38:13.
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days, it is busier than ever. promotional leaflets and folders and

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also do general formwork, the likes of the annual tax bill. Although

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this unit is the based in Stockton, it also does the printing for

:38:29.:38:35.

Darlington Council. The sheer package saves Darlington �1 million

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a year. Over the last three years, the council in Darlington has faced

:38:43.:38:49.

the 14 million cut in its funding. Over 400 jobs have been lost and

:38:49.:38:59.
:38:59.:39:01.

jobs have been hit in the likes of the arts Centre, which closed. There

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is a further �40 million cut coming in the budget. If Darlington where

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to stop cutting the grass, entering the bends, closing leisure centres

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and museums and libraries tomorrow, that would equate to the �14 million

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we have two fame. It is a significant challenge, particularly

:39:27.:39:34.

for the likes of us. How are you going to manage this? There are

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certain savings we can put into place, but that will only take so

:39:37.:39:44.

far. We have had already 400 members of staff made redundant over the

:39:44.:39:48.

last few years unlucky at the scale of cuts we have defined, there could

:39:48.:39:54.

be a similar number coming up. some of these arguments get short

:39:54.:40:03.

shrift. There are so many councils. So many of them could may urge. The

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good meals together and share the services. Every business has to go

:40:07.:40:11.

through cycles where you have to adapt to these changes. Why can they

:40:11.:40:21.
:40:21.:40:27.

not do that? We are in this position, so is it not time for them

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to think more radically? I think we had already seen local authorities

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working in a much more co-ordinated day. We do of county council should

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have got together to try and have certain functions sheared. You could

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not get rid of the whole load of councils could you not? Well, you

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have to be very careful about that. Everything comes at a price. People

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want to have local representatives. I think councils are taking very

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effective action to try and take money away from the backroom

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functions and to try and reduce the cut to front-line services as much

:41:11.:41:16.

as possible. This is really challenging. This is the most

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challenging financial environment ever faced by local authorities and

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of cuts keep coming year on year, we are going to see local councils

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simply not able to provide the services they do at the moment.

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is the reality. What we saw in Darlington is that councils can

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think of a lie, but still they are struggling to cope and are stealing

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down cannabis. They asked councils who could save. We have heard the

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likes of the amount of money spent by some councils on consultants.

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these are fiddling round the edges. What is left for the councils to

:42:00.:42:09.

cut? There's not so much for them to cut. We have seen the letter. It is

:42:10.:42:15.

not nice. It is not easy to have to live through butter has to be known

:42:15.:42:19.

that Newcastle were still receiving a lot more money than some of the

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wealthier councils down south. is absolute rubbish. What you are

:42:24.:42:32.

trying to say is these cuts and there are still a lot of scope for

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local councils to make changes to services. That is not true. It is

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the councils in greatest needs. The true risk Council in the country,

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Liverpool, has been given the biggest cut. The councils who are

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coping with areas of the biggest deprivation are receiving the

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biggest cuts. You have to target the communities with the greatest needs.

:42:58.:43:02.

You have to look at the overall figures. The councils in the North

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are still getting -- the North East are still coping very well in

:43:11.:43:21.
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comparison to the likes of the North West. It is difficult, but we come

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back to the fact that this is needed. Would you prefer councils to

:43:32.:43:39.

have the freedom to argue for a council tax rise in order to protect

:43:39.:43:46.

services? Generally, we should give more power to local government. The

:43:46.:43:48.

government is passing down a lot of responsibilities to local

:43:49.:43:53.

government, for example in the Administration of benefits. But it

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is not giving them the resources to do that. At a general level, I think

:43:59.:44:02.

we should be sent to local government, make your case out, try

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and make your money go further, but what the adults are doing and it is

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really important we do not leave lose sight of this, they are being

:44:12.:44:17.

very imaginative to come together and plan for the future. Councils

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are trapped here. BR having budgets cut but you're giving them the

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freedom dashed not giving them the freedom to raise council tax. Is

:44:32.:44:42.
:44:42.:44:44.

that unfair? We have seen the role that communities can pay. I am going

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to stop you just fear. Because that is the story we are about to come

:44:47.:44:52.

When Newcastle Council announced last year it wanted to shut all but

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eight of its local libraries, the protests were long and loud. Yet the

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story did not end there. Four out of the five libraries due to close for

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good this week will in fact be reopening, under the control of

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local people. Let me tell you a story that begins in a place not far

:45:07.:45:17.
:45:17.:45:17.

from here. For library lovers, it was a horror story. Protests earlier

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this year about council cuts, among them proposals to close five

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libraries in Newcastle and see more by 2015. No, that script has

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changed. This is one of the library is slated to close, but will stay

:45:36.:45:42.

open run by volunteers from the local community. We raise money from

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a number of events. This is a beautiful building and is very well

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adapted for the likes of concerts, lectures, children's activities and

:45:52.:46:02.
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suchlike. It has been very well maintained by the council up until

:46:04.:46:08.

now, so it is not as if we are taking over our building that is on

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its last legs. This building is a beautiful facility. Under the

:46:16.:46:26.
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original plans, a libraries would of close by 2015. -- eight libraries.

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Four have been rescued and there are plans for the community to take

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others on. One of them has shut for good, much for the annoyance of

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local users. Pretty disappointing. Josh knows they are virtually every

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night. The man in charge of the service in the city is relatively up

:46:52.:47:00.

heat. We have been able to give support to community groups of the

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transferrin buildings and the stock. It is a partnership of community

:47:05.:47:10.

organisations and the council which has very well for years. So ugly

:47:10.:47:16.

fears of libraries shutdowns unfounded. Was the local council

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playing politics with libraries over the cuts? We have to make

:47:23.:47:26.

large-scale cuts over the next few years, so it is unfair to say we

:47:27.:47:33.

were playing with this. We were being very realistic and honest and

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upfront. In County Durham, the council is in the process of handing

:47:37.:47:43.

over dozens of community centres to local groups to run as part of its

:47:43.:47:52.

evening routines. Gemma practises hard and shootings in one of them.

:47:52.:48:02.
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But with this comes great responsibility. The council will

:48:08.:48:12.

continue to pay for repairs on the Arisaig, but the part of that is

:48:13.:48:17.

that they will only pay for 70% of that and we have defined the other

:48:17.:48:21.

30%. There was an upside to the spending

:48:21.:48:25.

review this week and it came in the shape of some extra money for road

:48:25.:48:28.

improvements, like the A19. Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny

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Alexander also promised a feasibility study into dualling the

:48:30.:48:40.
:48:40.:48:41.

A1 north of Newcastle. London gets a variety of projects. We get a update

:48:41.:48:48.

on a previous I cancel programme and the talk of a feasibility study. Is

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that really good enough? I am pleased that the study is going to

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take place. Previous governments have failed to do this with regard

:48:58.:49:04.

to the A1 and we have had that confirmed today by Danny Alexander.

:49:04.:49:14.
:49:14.:49:14.

It is great news for the North East. It is a commitment which could

:49:14.:49:17.

easily be going back on. They are looking at a feasibility study. We

:49:17.:49:27.
:49:27.:49:28.

have heard this all before. Yes, but previous governments have failed.

:49:28.:49:34.

But I think we will see it coming pretty quickly. With regard to this

:49:34.:49:42.

road, this is more than the Labour Party ever did. What I would say was

:49:42.:49:47.

that the last infrastructure plan from this government introduced 561

:49:47.:49:51.

projects and so far southern hub in Deal honoured. We need to see

:49:51.:49:54.

something happening on the ground, not these empty words from the

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government. I as the chief secretary and now is whether the road was

:50:00.:50:06.

going to happen, whether the A1 would happen, what percentage would

:50:06.:50:09.

come to the North East of infrastructure spending and he could

:50:09.:50:18.

not tell me. The last time I hear, it was one half of 1%. This region

:50:18.:50:21.

has been shortchanged by the government. These projects are all

:50:22.:50:26.

going to happen after 2015. The cover is done nothing to stimulate

:50:26.:50:34.

economic growth in the short term. There has been broadband investment

:50:34.:50:38.

and investment in green industries, should be not be praising them for

:50:38.:50:45.

that? Well, if they actually happened. The record of delivery, as

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opposed to what he has been absolutely abysmal from this

:50:48.:50:58.
:50:58.:50:58.

government. We need this economic growth though. Local businesses need

:50:58.:51:04.

support from the government. �2 billion across all the regions is

:51:04.:51:07.

simply not enough. Lord Heseltine themselves said it would take 70

:51:07.:51:15.

billion. The government is as usual channelling resources into London

:51:15.:51:21.

and the south-east and ignoring areas such as this. There has been a

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big gap in spending between the South and the North? Of course we

:51:26.:51:33.

would like more money, but there has been good news for the region. There

:51:33.:51:38.

is now going to be a special transition region category which

:51:38.:51:41.

Durham Tees Valley will be in and also because the government has made

:51:42.:51:47.

the decision, as Durham county council asked, they wanted to have

:51:47.:51:50.

more local control over spending and that is exactly what is going to

:51:50.:51:59.

happen. This could see �100 million extra coming to the area.

:51:59.:52:02.

And now, as they say, for something completely different. The

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1,300-year-old Lindisfarne Gospels go on display to the public from

:52:05.:52:08.

tomorrow, on loan from the British Library, with tens of thousands of

:52:08.:52:10.

visitors expected to flock to Durham's Palace Green. Local MPs

:52:10.:52:14.

welcome the exhibition, but think it should be just the start. Here is

:52:14.:52:24.
:52:24.:52:27.

Mark with that and some of the other stories making the news this week.

:52:27.:52:36.

Seven cyclist died on the lords of the North East in 2011. The overall

:52:36.:52:40.

casualty rate is one of the highest in the United Kingdom. The hospital

:52:41.:52:44.

in Whitehaven is in hospital again after an investigation by the care

:52:44.:52:53.

quality commission. The Lindisfarne Gospels go on display tomorrow, but

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should be returned permanently to the region according to local MPs.

:53:01.:53:05.

Why can the British library not establish a base in Northumberland.

:53:05.:53:14.

They could display them permanently the. And an accolade for Olson in

:53:14.:53:19.

Cumbria, which is to become the first social enterprise stone in the

:53:19.:53:29.
:53:29.:53:31.

United Kingdom. They have even set up their own co-operative. Let us

:53:31.:53:35.

talk about the Lindisfarne Gospels. We are very thrilled the upcoming

:53:35.:53:38.

two Durham. We have a more known. Should they be coming here

:53:38.:53:44.

permanently? Firstly, it is fantastic we have them back in

:53:45.:53:50.

Durham even for temporary period. People see it as a next ordinary

:53:50.:53:56.

exhibition. We should start back congratulating the Cathedral for a

:53:56.:54:01.

brilliant job in bringing them here. But it would be nice to have the

:54:01.:54:05.

media permanently. We would have to sort out a way of financing that. I

:54:05.:54:09.

would like to continue discussions with the University and Cathedral

:54:09.:54:13.

and the British library to receive we can achieve that. That would be

:54:13.:54:21.

fantastic. But at the moment, it is just great the RPM on temporary loan

:54:21.:54:26.

along with other important relics. It is very important people let go

:54:26.:54:28.

and see and important that we celebrate our heritage in this

:54:29.:54:38.
:54:39.:54:41.

region. Should they be in this region? Firstly, I agree that it is

:54:41.:54:44.

fantastic they are here, but I agree that you have to look at the

:54:45.:54:54.
:54:55.:54:57.

financial implications of them being here on the time. But I think that

:54:58.:55:02.

so many people visit them at the British library and maybe they would

:55:02.:55:06.

not be so many people got exposure to them if they were permanently and

:55:06.:55:13.

the North East. They are national treasures, so it is rather unfair

:55:13.:55:19.

for us to claim them simply for the North East. It was interesting in

:55:19.:55:22.

Parliament house MPs from other regions asked if they could have a

:55:22.:55:28.

loan of the Lindisfarne Gospels as well, which was rather nice. I think

:55:28.:55:32.

it's wonderful that people want to celebrate them and know more about

:55:32.:55:37.

them. If we hadn't permanently there really be able to loan out to other

:55:38.:55:42.

areas. One thing we want to acknowledge is that we really have

:55:42.:55:47.

excellent facilities in the North East in order to house the

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Lindisfarne Gospels and a lot of expertise in preserving them, so a

:55:51.:55:55.

should be possible. What we do not have in place a long-term fund which

:55:55.:55:59.

Ruud have to work on. And there will be a special

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programme on the Gospels tomorrow night here on BBC One at 10.35pm.

:56:02.:56:06.

That is about all we have got time for. It is the BBC news in a moment,

:56:06.:56:10.

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