Tuesday, 11 November 2014

‘a decision the Council hasn’t made yet’


You won’t be surprised to read that this blog is centred on the hypocrisy of politicians who say one thing and then expect the world to ‘forget’ what they’ve previously said. Nobody says that they’re not allowed to change their minds – they are and that should be seen as healthy but what is deeply corrosive is the current ability of some politicians in Northumberland to say they’re against something when less than 18 months previously, they were secretly arguing for the exact same policy.

This week’s focus is on a unique local politician Councillor Andrew Tebbutt, a senior figure in Northumberland’s Liberal Democrats, a ‘champion of Morpeth’ who was a portfolio holder in the last Lib Dem administration 2008 – 13. He’s been unfairly dubbed ‘the portfolio holder for privatisation’ because of his seeming slavish desire to ‘sell of Northumberland’s family silver’.

For those of you who don’t know – he’s also the man who led the recent, abortive call in attempt over the emerging plans to vacate County Hall for a purpose built new HQ in Ashington, a decision the Council hasn’t taken yet. For all his faux outrage over the emerging plans and the devastation it will supposedly wreak on Morpeth, he’s never mentioned that he had plans to move the council out of County Hall into a purpose built facility in Cramlington. Spot the similarity but why he’s against one proposal and but was in favour of the other?

The key difference, dear readers is, wait for it – a joining of North Tyneside Council, then run by ex Tory Mayor Linda Arkley with Northumberland County Council who would ‘pool services’ and offer up public services for private profits. This would have operated out of Cramlington. It’s clear that Councillor Tebbutt was ‘gung ho’ for this dangerous leap into a private sector future and he was keen to ‘vacate’ county hall, so why the change of heart? He wasn’t thinking about the huge loss of council jobs (between 1295 and 3500 according to Councillor Tebbutt’s own report) when he was ‘fattening up the public sector calf’ for the delectation of the ‘private sector’ predators. He wasn’t thinking about the cost to the public purse when he commissioned consultants costing millions of pounds to identify ways that the private sector could make ‘efficiencies’ (even his report admits that means job cuts) and he certainly wasn’t thinking about ‘Morpeth’. His plans would have seen hundreds of Morpeth jobs lost AND County Hall closed.  

At this stage, Councillor Tebbutt hasn’t explained his role in the ‘private sector coup’ cooked up in Tory North Tyneside and ConDem Northumberland. He hasn’t explained why he’s campaigning to ‘save Morpeth’ now yet was secretly planning to leave the town high and dry? He hasn’t explained why he ‘briefed elected members’ on some parts of the ‘Impower Report’ and not others? He hasn’t explained why his first port of call was to ship out services to the private sector instead of defending public services? He hasn’t revealed the links between North Tyneside Council and Northumberland County Council and the huge number of top tier meetings between the two authorities?

He could come clean now. He could come clean about his plans (backed by his Conservative coalition colleagues in Northumberland) to ship jobs out and close County Hall as the council HQ.

The challenge is on Councillor T.

Come clean and tell us what your plans were. 

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