Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The Labour group on Northumberland County Council is backing Hexham MP Guy Opperman’s opposition to the Government’s plans to introduce lower regional wages.

Political unity over public sector pay

Published on Monday 2 July 2012 19:28
A RARE political unity has been formed between Conservative and Labour politicians over public sector pay in the county.
In a motion to next Wednesday’s full council meeting, members will urge the authority to fight the policy, saying it would harm the North East, depress wages generally and make it difficult to recruit the best teachers and medical staff.
And this has also been supported by the Northumberland Conservative group.
Mr Opperman has said he sees no economic argument for regional pay. He argues that someone working in the NHS in a deprived part of the North East deserves more pay than an equivalent worker in a London suburb.
The Labour group believes that reducing the real-terms pay of the county’s public sector workers, of which there are more than 35,000, will dramatically reduce spending power and have a negative impact on the private sector.
Its Leader, Grant Davey, said: “It’s time for the politicians of Northumberland to put their party politics to one side and to stand up for the people of the county. We agree with Mr Opperman’s position that regional pay ‘will not work’.
“This motion gives all parties in the council chamber a chance to send a strong message to the Coalition in London to say ‘hands off our public services and we say no to a race to the bottom of the pay league’.”
Coun Peter Jackson, Leader of Northumberland Conservatives, added: “It is wrong to discriminate against workers on the basis of where they live. It cannot be right that workers in Northumberland are paid less than people doing the same job in the Midlands or in the South East.
“Northumberland’s Conservative councillors are delighted to support Guy Opperman, who has led the opposition to these plans in the county.

Labour group leader Coun Grant Davey said: “Once again the Lib Dem administration has been caught trying to slip through plans to sell off the family silver.”

Northumberland Gazzette

Focus falls on future of leisure centres

A new team could be brought in to run all Northumberland’s public leisure provision, including centres in Alnwick and Rothbury.

Leisure chief Coun Neil Bradbury describes the deal as uncontroversial and wants the decision delegated to himself and a colleague without other councillors having a say.
The authority is already seeking a commercial partner to take on services as it faces pressure to save £74million within three or four years, on top of £100million and 1,500 jobs it has slashed already. It argues that will save jobs.
Coun Bradbury’s aim is to cut the £4million annual subsidy by a quarter. He maintains to colleagues that the leisure deal is not privatisation because the old district councils brought in outside organisations to run the sports centres.
Coun Bradbury describes this mixture as a ‘mess of contracts’, but praises the result.
He said: “My strong preference is to use the lure of a brilliant new facility in Ashington as the starter of a contract, where we will appoint a preferred provider who will gradually take over the other centres when the other providers’ contracts come to an end. My aim is to save 25 per cent on the leisure subsidy, but with little increase in prices and no cutting back in service.”
Labour group leader Coun Grant Davey said: “Once again the Lib Dem administration has been caught trying to slip through plans to sell off the family silver.”