Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Councillor McGregor said, in response to a member of the public who asked a question about the impact of the ‘bedroom tax’ on her daughter,

Issued on behalf of Wansbeck Labour

Leading Liberal in offensive ‘bedroom tax’ slurs
Councillor tells families faced with bedroom tax to ‘cut down on cigarettes and wine’
A storm has erupted over comments made by a leading Northumberland Liberal Democrat who suggested the so called ‘Bedroom Tax’ could be remedied if families hit by the new charge ‘gave up cigarettes or wine’ to pay for the new charge which will affect an estimated 5,222 families across Northumberland.
Councillor Andrew McGregor, Liberal Democrat member for Bothal Ward in Ashington made the comments in an Area Committee meeting held in the town.
Councillor McGregor said, in response to a member of the public who asked a question about the impact of the ‘bedroom tax’ on her daughter,
‘I don’t know why people are worried about paying their bedroom tax? It’s only a couple of packets of cigarettes or a couple of bottles of wine. For some people, it’s not even two bottles’.
Councillor McGregor’s comments were branded a ‘disgraceful slur’ and ‘an insult to vulnerable people’ by Northumberland’s Labour group in a joint statement.
His comments follow a grovelling apology issued by a Manchester based Housing Company which advised tenants to ‘cut down on Sky, cigarettes, bingo, drinks and other non- essentials’ if faced with charges under the controversial tax.
Labour group spokesperson Lynn Grimshaw candidate for Bothal Ward said
‘Andrew McGregor’s comments show his ignorance about a ‘tax on spare rooms’ which will hit an estimated 5,222 families across Northumberland. Families and individuals face losing between £446 and £886 per year and many families are struggling to pay their bills and Councillor McGregor has stigmatised them all with these crass, insensitive and misleading comments.    
Councillor McGregor should immediately and unreservedly apologise for this disgraceful slur on tenants and we’re calling for his political leader, Jeff Reid to condemn these comments and show some leadership.
If Jeff Reid fails to act on this matter then he’s abdicating his responsibilities to decent people in Ashington and across Northumberland who will see this as an insult to people some whom are vulnerable’.
Notes to Editors
The person who asked the question wishes to remain anonymous for the purpose of this story but will confirm the circumstances around the question and why Councillor McGregor’s comments were so insulting.
  1. Andrew McGregor’s information including contact details can be found at http://andymcgregor.mycouncillor.org.uk/
  2. The story about the Manchester Housing Company Eastland Homes can be found at http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/tenancies/landlord-apologises-for-patronising-welfare-advice/6526203.article


   






Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Once again, Liberal ‘cutmeister’ General, Andrew Tebbutt complains about his own Government

Once again, Liberal ‘cutmeister’ General, Andrew Tebbutt complains about his own Government

The Liberal Democrats in Northumberland have slammed their own government for the latest savage round of cuts to local government.
Only 3 weeks after Liberal Democrat MP for Berwick, Alan Beith trumpeted getting a ‘£250,000’ windfall for rural areas, his Lib Dem colleague Andrew Tebbutt has slammed the government saying ‘there seems to be a complete lack of understanding in government about the pressures that occur in this part of the country’ and opined ‘there are none so deaf as they who won’t hear’.
Only 4 months ago, Liberal Democrat leader Jeff ‘Blyth is a dump’ Reid described similar comments as ‘posturing at the tax payers’ expense’ and said ‘we’ve just got to get on with it’ (Journal: Sat 5 Jan pg37).
So what’s changed?
As the election looms large in the minds of the Liberal Democrats in County Hall it’s clear that they want to blame anyone but themselves for the mess they’ve made of Northumberland in the last 5 years.
The truth is the Liberals were happy to ‘make the tough decisions’ when there were no elections but they’re running for cover now ‘V Day’ approaches.
On 2 May voters in Northumberland can judge the record of a Liberal Democrat administration that has sacked thousands of workers, cut £2m from frontline services, sold off the family silver and increased ‘stealth taxes’ such as the £5m tax on ‘town centre parking’, allowed the housing waiting list to rise to a record 12,000 people and secretly worked up plans to privatise the remaining council services.
They’ve been the ‘willing partners’ of a ConDem government that has introduced the ‘bedroom tax’ which will affect 5,222 Northumberland families, increased VAT, increased tuition fees for young people and cut the top rate of tax which gives millionaires an estimated £100,000 tax cut while the rest of the country struggles.
When Jeff Reid called his home town, Blyth ‘a dump’, he was letting the cat out of the bag. After 5 years of Liberal Democrat ‘rule’ from County Hall he was acknowledging that he’d ignored the towns of Northumberland and he’d kept quiet while his own government ‘had been deaf’ to Northumberland.
Labour says ‘roll on 2 May’ when Jeff Reid and his not so merry band of Liberal Democrats can face the verdict of the voters on V Day.  

“There appears to be a complete lack of understanding in government and particularly DCLG (Eric Pickles’s Department for Communities and Local Government) about the pressures that occur in this part of the country.

Council budget approved as pressures highlighted
Northumberland Gazette
Published on Thursday 28 February 2013 11:12
People in government have no idea of the pressures on the North East, Northumberland County Council’s Liberal Democrat finance leader Coun Andrew Tebbutt declared as he produced another cost-slashing budget.
After four years in which the county administration has cut £100million in spending and 1,500 employees, he foresees much worse for the winners of the May election.
The Morpeth councillor said: “No one can fail to recognise that the challenges for the next four years are likely to be even greater than those of the last four years. High savings targets are daunting in the extreme. Next year’s difficult enough, but the predictions for the following two years are traumatic.
“There appears to be a complete lack of understanding in government and particularly DCLG (Eric Pickles’s Department for Communities and Local Government) about the pressures that occur in this part of the country.
“All of the statistics show that this region needs extra support, with Northumberland the poor relation even of its neighbours. But all our pleas bring no response and there are none so deaf as they who won’t hear.”
The coming year’s savings target was £5.8million more than predicted 12 months ago. Northumberland had lost £25million as a result of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s autumn statement in early December. The loss had been partly compensated for in grants, but made worse by factors such as transferring NHS public health work to councils.
He praised the surviving county council staff, who had gathered several national awards and recognitions of excellence despite the turmoil.
In setting a budget of £467million for the coming year – of which £200 million goes direct to schools – the council is cutting another £23million. Over three years the reduction will be £86million.
Coun Tebbutt’s medium-term financial plan to 2016 and the 2013-14 budget were approved yesterday by 47 votes to 15 as Labour voted with the LibDems while the Conservatives abstained, saying more should be spent on roads. The capital budget for the three years is about £314million.
• For more from yesterday’s budget meeting and the reactions of the two opposition parties, see next week’s Gazette.