Monday, October 08, 2012

Council accused of ‘secret privatisation’

                                                                                        
Ian Swithenbank, Chairperson
Grant Davey, Leader
Val Tyler, Deputy
Robert Arckless, Secretary

County Hall
Morpeth
Northumberland NE61 2EF
Telephone (01670) 533000
Fax (01670) 533072

Press Release

Council accused of ‘secret privatisation’.
Leisure services in line for sell off despite promise to halt privatisation moves

Labour politicians in Northumberland have called for the Liberal administration to ‘come clean’ over moves to privatise leisure centres and services across the county after the county’s ruling Liberal executive announced plans to ‘cave in’ to Labour and Tory pressure over plans to privatise ‘unspecified services’.

Liberal Cabinet member Neil Bradbury has already presented outline plans to replace five leisure trusts that run council leisure services with one ‘outsourced’ provider and Labour are seeking answers about these privatisation moves. A controversial idea put forward by Councillor Bradbury was to ‘use the soon to be built £20m Ashington Leisure and Community Centre as a ‘giveaway sweetener’ to bring in an external provider.

The authority has confirmed that Councillor Bradbury’s controversial plans are still on-going and are separate to the leadership’s pledge to halt wholesale privatisation.

Labour Leader Grant Davey said

‘This is a worrying move by the Liberals to continue with a backdoor privatisation while assuring residents that they haven’t made any decisions about outsourcing county services. This move by Councillor Bradbury raises very serious concerns over value for money as he has already indicated on record that he favours using the new £20m Ashington Leisure centre as a ‘sweetener’ to an outside provider. The council have already indicated they’re borrowing the money for Ashington leisure centre only to give the centre away. That can’t be good economic sense and coming on the back of additional £1.53m the council have so far spent on their abortive privatisation programme, we’re calling for assurances from Councillor Bradbury and his leader that the leisure privatisation will be stopped too until at least May 2013. Labour is calling for the Liberals to stop this rush and consider looking at our proposal to support a creation of a ‘single trust’ to cover the whole county.

Jeff Reid doubles the council debt-This decision contributed to a doubling of council debt to £595m since the Liberals took power in 2008

Ian Swithenbank, Chairperson
Grant Davey, Leader
Val Tyler, Deputy
Robert Arckless, Secretary

County Hall
Morpeth
Northumberland NE61 2EF
Telephone (01670) 533000
Fax (01670) 533072


Press Release

Fears over new ‘giveaway’ Leisure Centre in Ashington

Council to ‘borrow to build’ new leisure centre despite plans to ‘give it away’

Community groups and Labour community activists have raised concerns that the new £20m leisure and community centre is to be built on ‘the never-never’ after the Liberal administration pledged to borrow a further £80m to fund capital plans across the county.
Liberal Leader Jeff Reid and his junior colleague Neil Bradbury announced on Monday that ‘plans for the new £20m centre’ would be available for viewing on 12 Oct.
Yesterday’s meeting of Full Council was told that the council would be borrowing a further £80m to build facilities across the county. This decision contributed to a doubling of council debt to £595m since the Liberals took power in 2008.
Previously, Cabinet member in charge of Leisure Services, Neil Bradbury had revealed his plans to ‘outsource leisure services’ and to use the new £20m leisure centre in Ashington as a ‘giveaway sweetener to tempt private sector bidders’ to take over leisure facilities across the county.

Now campaigners have pledged to stop the ‘giveaway’ and are demanding answers from Liberals on the council on what has happened to the cash raised from the original sale of Ashington FC land and surrounding sites which was due to be earmarked for the new leisure centre.

Labour co-ordinator for the ‘#itsnotyourstogiveaway campaign Lynne Grimshaw said

‘Liberals have big questions to answer. Not only to the want to give away the leisure centre before it’s even built and a resident has passed through its doors, it now looks like they’re going to borrow the money. The centre is for the local community, not to be traded with some commercial giant for their profit. We’re concerned the people of Ashington are being sold down the River Wansbeck and the people of Northumberland will be paying for a leisure centre for years to come despite not owning it’. 





Notes for Editors

‘The November revision to the Treasury Management Policy Statement for 2011/12 included a £60 million increase to the borrowing limits, to bring current borrowing in line with capital financing requirement limits and to cover future capital schemes which include the Morpeth Northern Bypass, Ashington Leisure Centre and Morpeth Flood Defence’
Quote from Neil Bradbury email to Liberal Democrat activists in May 2012

“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 provider’s contracts come to an end”

  • Members of the ‘#itsnotyourstogiveaway campaign are Lynne Grimshaw (Bothal) & Brian Gallagher (Haydon). Labour councillor’s Jim Lang (Seaton with Newbiggin West), Ken Parry (Hirst), Jimmy Sawyer (College), Tommy Wilson (Central) are also involved in the campaign.