LABOUR will get the economy of Northumberland moving again by building hundreds of much-needed homes if it wins control of the county council next month, a senior party figure claimed yesterday.
Shadow housing minister Jack Dromey said the party’s pledge to provide 1,300 affordable, social and intermediate homes over the next four years will put unemployed builders back to work and create vital apprenticeships for jobless young people.
Mr Dromey was in Ashington to kick-start the party’s campaign to win overall political control of the county council, which has been run since 2009 by a minority Liberal Democrat administration. One of Labour’s main manifesto pledges is to oversee the building of at least 1,300 affordable homes – more than 450 each for the west, north and south east areas of the county by 2017.
The pledge followed the recent publication of the council’s latest housing needs survey, which revealed the authority needs to build a minimum of 240 homes a year over the next decade to make inroads into the current waiting list.
Yesterday Mr Dromey said: “Northumberland is hit by high unemployment and a generation of young people growing up with no hope. Labour will get the economy of Northumberland moving by building 1,300 badly-needed homes, putting thousands of unemployed building workers back to work and creating apprenticeships for our young people.
“Britain is gripped by a toxic combination of the biggest housing crisis in a generation and a flatlining economy.
“Labour will build Britain out of recession with a new generation of homes to rent and buy. History shows that, from the depression of the 1930s on, there has never been sustained economic recovery without a major programme of house building.”
He said the party was taking nothing for granted, but had worked hard locally and was “optimistic” that the people of Northumberland would, in hard times, “turn to a Labour council they can trust”.
Mr Dromey also visited North Tyneside to support Labour candidate Norma Redfearn, a former headteacher who is trying to wrest control of the borough council from elected Conservative mayor Linda Arkley.
He said: “North Tyneside needs a local champion who will stand up for a fine community. Norma Redfearn is a local woman with a remarkable track record of turning round failing schools, who will get the area moving. Her number one priority is jobs, particularly for young people.”
Northumberland Labour group leader Grant Davey said he is increasingly hopeful the party will win the 34 seats it needs to take overall control of the council on May 2.
“We believe our popularity has risen quite strongly since the coalition Government came in. We are desperate to tackle what is a burning issue for the county.”