18/09/2011 The Politics Show North East and Cumbria


18/09/2011

Jo Coburn, Andrew Neil and Richard Moss are here with the top political stories of the week.


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Here, a Teesside MP blames councils for failing to support the region's

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businesses. Should they be forced to buy local?

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And a network of electricity pylons could soon be running through some

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of the north's most beautiful landscapes. We report from Cumbria.

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2131 seconds

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Hello and welcome to your local part of the show. I hope you

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enjoyed the summer, what there was of it anyway. Thanks for tuning in

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again. Coming up: In a week of grim

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economic news, councils in the North East and Cumbria are accused

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of giving too much work to businesses outside the region.

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And I am in Cumbria, where a new network of pylons could be built

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across some of the county's most beautiful landscape.

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More from Emily in Cumbria later. And we will also be mulling over

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what to make of the new political map of the north that has been

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drawn up by the Boundary Commission with the MPs for Berwick and

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Hartlepool. First, the TUC has accused the

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Government of bleeding the life out of the North East economy after the

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region experienced another big rise in unemployment. Ministers say they

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are doing their best to help the private sector create new jobs. But

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what about our councils? Are they doing their bit? Well, the Politics

:37:06.:37:09.

Show has asked all the big local authorities in Cumbria and the

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North East how many contracts they are awarding to companies based in

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the region. Here's our political correspondent, Mark Denten.

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Kevin Brown is a happy man. After a few tough months, his company has

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just landed some big orders. contracts are potentially worth

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200,000. We finished in the last two weeks and �50,000 maintenance

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project. The form got that new business from Hartlepool council.

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It makes a point of buying local. We have in all our contracts

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clauses that talk about local employment, apprenticeships from

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the people from the borough and as a result of that, a lot of her

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local businesses are being able to compete more. For every pound spent

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with the local workforce, it comes back threefold. To but the by local

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message does not seem to have got through to everyone. We have

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discovered big variations in the amount that there councils spend in

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the region. In Hartlepool, 62% of contracts are placed with North

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East firms. In Newcastle, it is 51%. What is more concerning is that

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some councils have reduced the amount their spending locally.

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Redcar and Cleveland Council have seen a 17% drop in its North East

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contracts. Won Redcar seafront, the place is buzzing with building work.

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But large parts of this work went to companies based outside the

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North East. The local MP is concerned. Keeping money in the

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area which stimulates employment and other activity, is part of

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their value that can be generated through these contracts. I think

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they should look at this very closely. Clearly, the council

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taxpayers want a good deal. Did you know what to pay over the lot for

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services, but at the same time, they want their area to be

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successful. An hour Adia, we want to restore the North East economy

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and reduce unemployment. If but the council says that European

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competition rules mean that it cannot just by local. With �17

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million of council cuts around here, they say that Porter's expect the

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best deal. I think people expect value for money, but the expect a

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good job as well. There is no point in doing it cheaper if it is not

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fit for purpose. It all comes for the tax system and the council

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taxpayer pay for this. But some say the council could do much more.

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This business used to supply for councils and the North East, but

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all that business went to a firm in France. At the moment, what they

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are doing now is having one supplier supplying the product.

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Taking that out of the local economy creates a difficult

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situation. The worst-case scenario is that it puts a lead on the

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growth prospects of companies in the North East. They might still

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have opportunities to work as sub- contractors, but it will put a

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ceiling on how far they are able to grow. That will have an impact on

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the amount of wealthy can create and the jobs they can create.

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The Chamber of Trade ending Mark's report. Well, with me in the studio

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to discuss that are the Liberal Democrat MP for Berwick, Sir Alan

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Beith and the Labour MP for Hartlepool, Iain Wright. Ian Wright,

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your local council did well to us, but should the pressure to be the

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lowest price or supporting local firms? I think councils can be big

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economic players in the local region. I think they have to think

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about the value for money. There is a balance to be struck, because it

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is important to bleed -- breathed life into the local economy. We

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have had to work hard with contracts to make sure that their

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local jobs and apprenticeship opportunities as well. Would you

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say that other councils are not making the same effort? I think

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that there can be big players in the local economy. Would you

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criticise a country that did not reach that 62% level? In difficult

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times, at a time when central government is slashing budgets for

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local government, that will have an impact. Equally, in order to make

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sure that we can maintain skills and have a good economy in their

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region, councils can play a leading role there. Sir Alan Beith, is it

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ever justifiable to pay a bit more to insure a contract stays local?

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That is worth paying more to make sure that the job is done properly.

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Quite often a local contractor can do that. One of your items in the

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film demonstrated where the problems start from. It is these

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big contracts that bundle up everything so that a whole range of

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suppliers have to come through the one company. That is a get someone

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to -- someone coming to change a light bulb from the other end of

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the country. We're all under that pressure, but that is what drives

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out local businesses. One of the things that there tumbrel and do --

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that in Northumberland are doing is contract to the small local firms

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to do the work. There is a lot more scope for a smaller business if we

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do not have such a huge bundle up contracts. Every penny extra that

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the spend on these contracts, even it is laudable to look at other,

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local companies, they have to look at council tax bills. The council -

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- their tax payer expects local councils to be conscious of value

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for money. In the end, I think we would all suffer if we did not have

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proper competition and if we allowed companies to name their

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price because they were the nearest company to the council headquarters.

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We cannot run it like that. But we can organise it so that local

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companies can bed successfully for contracts. What did he make of

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councils like Gateshead or Cumbria that say they do not hold this

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information? I think it is important that you have

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transparency, so a local electorate can see what they council is

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spending money on. In these difficult times, every penny that

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every council spends is important. I would say for every penny or

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pound that is spent by Hartlepool council, three or �4 can be pumped

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back into the local economy. It can do a real job in regenerating the

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town's economy. Let us talk about local economy. Sir Alan Beith, the

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focus is on the desperate need for more jobs. You have the highest

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unemployment rate in the contract. The North East is not doing well

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out of this coalition. The way it has to the Ford is to increase

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private sector jobs. -- the way it has to move forward. These figures

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show that the coalition's policy of encouraging private sector

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employment is not doing enough. Private sector employment is

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increasing across the country. not enough. Nobody thinks that it

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will be at the speeds that is consistent. Ian Wright, some would

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say that this is a Labour's legacy. The last government made their

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council to dependent on spending. Prior to the last election, on

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employment was coming down. It was all about pumping lot of

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unsustainable government money into the region. It is more complex than

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simply having private sector and public sector jobs over here. You

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can see it councils can be enablers and facilitators of their local

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government policy. This is feeling the whole country, but especially

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the north east. But the solution is not for the government just to

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spend more money, isn't it? want things like the jailing of the

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-- dualling of the A1. One a focus on investment in infrastructure is

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the right way to goal. -- go. government in power at the moment

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will be subject to severe financial restraints. How long can be a keep

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on going seeing those significant rising in employment in the North

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East, before the strategy has to change? But you cannot go back to

:46:58.:47:08.
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policy on -- of the borrowing in order to pay the current bills.

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Nick Clegg was talking this week about making sure that public

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sector contracts do not fall behind, so that we get the work in the

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timescale that we need it. But the money is not there unless the go on

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doing what we were doing before, which was borrowing money to pay

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the bills. -- unless we stop doing what we were doing before.

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And if you go to my blog you can find out how your council spends

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with businesses in the local area. That's bbc.co.uk/richardmoss.

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Now, we have heard a lot from the Government about the need for new

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nuclear power stations and wind farms to help generate energy in

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the future. Sometimes they are not welcomed whole-heartedly by local

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communities. But the controversy does not end there. In Cumbria, the

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energy generated from new reactors and wind farms will have to be

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transferred to the national grid. As Emily Unia reports, that could

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lead to a string of new giant pylons across one of Britain's most

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beautiful landscapes. De is like this draw thousands of

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visitors every year, so at any threat to their landscape is met

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with a ferocious opposition. But there is another side to Cumbria,

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the energy coast. Plans for a new nuclear power station, mean I knew

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grid connection, transferring energy across the country. But

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balancing development with protecting the environment is going

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to be a challenge. Cumbria sees itself as a place where no -- non-

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carbon energy can be focused in the future. We're looking very

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seriously at renewables, both onshore and offshore. All that

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means a much more powerful grid connection. What we have to see is

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an acceptable extension to the National Grid. In the heart of the

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National Park, there is a feeling that the countryside is under

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threat. I have no problem with them putting a connection in, my problem

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is how they are going to do it, underground or overground. If you

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look at it now, we have a few of the Lake District at its best today.

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If that will be covered with pylons, up to 60 feet high, you can just

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imagine what that will look like. It sickens me, to be honest. It is

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something that cannot happen. I am in the North Pennines, an area of

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outstanding national beauty. -- natural beauty. Once the work has

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been completed here in the putting connections underground. It will be

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difficult to tell that there will be any cables here. But these

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cables are very different are the ones that will be for the new

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connection. Buddying them will be a much more expensive proposition. It

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will likely effect energy prices. The National Grid does not have an

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inherent preference for any technology. What is important to us

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was that we get the right balance for the nation, that balances the

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local impact with the cost to the consumer. Underground cables are

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significantly more expensive. We know that underground cables

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removed the visual impact. They are one of their technologies that we

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will consider. As battle-lines are drawn offer the prospect of more

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and bigger pylons, their calls for a realistic conversation about the

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options. How much is the public prepared to pay in order to save

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the landscape, protect national parks and not live under national

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pylons? At think the answer will have to be compromised. You can

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bury some of it, but not all that. Some may areas are going to have to

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except the fact, because it is just not affordable for everything to be

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buried. It does not go to public consultation next year, but behind

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the scenes, councils and campaigners are pushing for a

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compromise. Meanwhile, become -- the government is running a

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competition to design a new kind of pylon, in the hope that we will all

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grow to love them. Emily Unia reporting. Well, all

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week, MPs like Penrith's Rory Stewart have been poring over the

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details of their new constituency boundaries. Cumbria will lose one

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seat, while the North East will lose three as part of David

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Cameron's plan to reduce the number of MPs at the next general election.

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It's a review that's thrown up some slightly quirky outcomes. Consett

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and Barnard Castle, two towns with very little in common up to now,

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find themselves in the same parliamentary seat. While, in

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contrast, neighbouring Whitley Bay and Tynemouth will be represented

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by two different MPs. So what are we to make of it all? And which

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party stands to gain most from the changes? The region can manage with

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for fewer MPs quite easily. I think those principles are correct. We

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should try and cost the -- cut down on the cost of politics. Your party

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was our duty to keep these MPs. think to cut down the cost of

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politics is the right approach. Let's be honest, this is

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gerrymandering by the Tories and order to make sure that they are

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locked in a majority. Whole legislative framework has been

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trying to push an in-built Tory majority in England in perpetuity.

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I think it is all it and I think deceit that you highlighted is a

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good example. On one hand, the MP would be representing Hadrian's

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Wall or at the top and the Yorkshire Dales at the bottom. I do

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not think the Boundary Commission have taken into account as much as

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they should have done. There are some huge constituencies that have

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been created. 2,500 square kilometres for Hexham. That will

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not help MPs serve their constituencies better. Mine is the

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third biggest in England at the moment. It can be done. Boundary

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changes always create problems. I think it is quite wrong to suggest

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that it is gerrymandering. This is nothing to do with the politicians.

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It is just a coincidence that it advantages the Conservatives?

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reason it advantages they Conservatives is because the

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current system has been a bad the during labour. -- giving an

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advantage to Labour. The Boundary Commission has set rules by the

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Government. What I think they could do little more of us looking at

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places where they might be splitting up a local communities

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and see if they can, within the rules, match communities better.

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Labour did very little about this, because it knew that it suited them.

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It lost in seats and are Canadians, where people voted Labour. Those

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principles, or tried to cut the cost of politics and equalise the

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number of voters. You say that and then see it is gerrymandering. It

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is political point-scoring. It is not. I think the point is that at

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the moment, the first draft of what the Boundary Commission has done

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this week froze up a number of interesting and somewhat odd

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connotations and they think people will be working to see if they can

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improve that sense of community cohesion which should be part of

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the parliamentary constituency. you think bet public opera about

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this? -- do you think that the public will care about this? It and

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there will be some committee concerned, but generally people

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want to see their MPs doing the job properly and well and they think we

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spend enough on politics as it is. Thank you very much.

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And if you go to my blog you can find more on the new-look

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constituencies. Why not post a comment and let us know what you

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think about them? We're back next Sunday quite a bit

:56:04.:56:07.

earlier, at 11am, when we will be asking what impact the Government's

:56:07.:56:10.

changes to planning policy will have on the North East. In the

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