Newcastle City Council treasurer Paul Woods ties up careers and steps down

The man who found the money for the second Tyne Tunnel is stepping down from his position as Newcastle City Council treasurer

Retiring finance officer at the civic centre Paul Woods who is auctioning off his ties for charity
Retiring finance officer at the civic centre Paul Woods who is auctioning off his ties for charity

He’s tied to a generation’s worth of major city spending decisions, and now he’s moving on.

Paul Woods is the city council treasurer who has helped find the cash for everything from the second Tyne Tunnel to the new Eldon Square.

And, after 33 years as Newcastle Council’s top finance officer, Mr Woods is now set to leave the council after its latest staff shake up.

His time at the council has seen him go from being a junior accountant in an almost all-male office to being the man tasked with showing just how the coalition Government is taking money from the North.

Speaking to The Journal, the 56-year-old said: “In my first interview for a different job the Newcastle treasurer was on the panel, he called me up and said come work for us instead.

“Back when I started there was a lot of smoking in the office, it was virtually all male, about 90% in my department, though its’s now 67% female, a dramatic change.

“I remember as a young fresh student coming in I was a little shocked when I opened the cloaks cupboard to find Page 3 photos plastered all over the walls, something you never see now, thank God.

“When I started there were no micro-computers, no spreadsheets, no calculators. We had slide rules, log tables and a fabulous comptometer machine that looked like the Enigma machine.”

At the time the country was under Conservative rule, and, Mr Woods said, even the controversial Thatcher years were better for the North than the current coalition Government.

“We had some very difficult times in the 80s, with capping of what we can raise, and some very difficult times in the 90s with the Poll Tax. There have always been interesting relationships between local and central government, sometimes very tense.

“But I have never known it to be as difficult as it is now. The prospects facing local government are more difficult than I have ever known.

“I think there was a view under Thatcher that they did want to try and help all parts of the country, you had Heseltine in Liverpool and you saw a more even handedness in terms of resources. That is the big difference now, there is just a big redistribution of money away from deprived areas. That is now accepted and recognised as their policy, and it is a difficult position.

“Thatcher wanted an even handed approach, fairness across the country, and I think we have lost that.”

Highlights for Mr Woods in his time at the council include the opening of the second Tyne Tunnel. “I started looking after the site in 1986, at a time when the old tunnel was wracking up debt. I was set a 20 year plan to get it sorted, and I didn’t at the time think I would see it delivered.”

As part of his departure party Mr Woods is auctioning off more than 100 ties collected during his time at the council. Money raised from the auction will go to a kidney disease charity in memory of popular council press officer Nigel Whitefield, who passed away recently.

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