Leaders warned Labour row will cost the North East jobs

Labour in-fighting will cost the North East jobs, Liberal Democrats have warned

Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith
Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith

Labour in-fighting will cost the North East jobs, Liberal Democrats have warned.

As efforts go on to try and resolve a dispute over a potential super council for the region, Lib Dems have signed a joint letter to The Journal calling on Labour to stop its party politics.

Plans for a new voice for the North East were put on hold when Sunderland Council said it had concerns that a Combined Authority would become too powerful or too expensive.

Seven councils from Northumberland down to Durham were hoping to merge their job creation role, and had asked the Government to pass a new law letting them take major decisions together.

But a Tyne Wear split emerged as Sunderland said there was too big a chance Newcastle would take all the benefits. A letter signed by Lib Dem group leaders from across the region says: “Time and time again, even with a Labour government for 13 years and a North East Prime Minister, the region has been let down by the Labour Party. The Liberal Democrats believe that there is scope for improving scrutiny and accountability in the proposed Combined Authority but are united in supporting the urgent need for a Combined Authority to help the North East stand strong.

“We call upon Ed Miliband to intervene to make his colleagues see sense and put the economic well-being of the region ahead of petty personal rivalries.”

The councillors were backed by Sir Alan Beith, who warned the region would lose out for a generation

The Berwick MP said: “It would be a great mistake to miss this chance to get for the North East some of the powers that London now takes for granted. I want us to be sure that Northumberland’s rural areas get a fair deal under this approach, but if Sunderland City council blocks any change, the North East will lose an opportunity which is not likely to offered again.”

Last night city leaders were still debating how to rescue the plans. Asked to comment on the letter, South Tyneside Council’s Labour leader Iain Malcolm said: “In the words of Clem Attlee to Harold Laski, ‘A period of silence from you would be most welcome.’”


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