CUTS: County Hall not to blame

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In response to A Brady’s letter (News Post Leader, March 10), I would like to first offer my sympathy.

Watching a parent decline through Alzheimer’s is a distressing process, and when they are not receiving the desired level of support it adds to the concern.

Additionally, I agree with the view that “many people are not being funded for the care they need”.

Where I find my view diverging is in where the finger of blame is pointed. He suggests that spending on County Hall is the culprit. The council headquarters, however, cannot be blamed for taking money away from where it is needed in areas of care.

County councils across the country have been progressively restricted in their spending and have had huge government cuts.

The results of these ‘austerity’ measures mean that councils have to impose cuts to basic services. That is all councils, including Conservative ones. The government’s savage cuts have not been fully imposed yet.

The decision regarding County Hall cannot be blamed for the cuts that are already happening and will gather speed as George Osborne aims to cut even more deeply over the next two years. Meanwhile, he is also borrowing at an alarming rate.

The second area is that of funding for care.

I volunteer with a national charity that works with people who find themselves in difficulties. I am seeing first hand people who had been managing to cope independently until their benefits had been cut, or a sanction imposed, or payments delayed.

The results of Ian Duncan Smith’s crusade against welfare is creating more hardship and mental health difficulties, and putting increasing strain on care facilities and caring services.

The cuts to county council funding and welfare have been imposed by the Conservative party that Peter Jackson is a member of. He is no doubt delighted to use the smokescreen that is County Hall to try to deflect attention away from the axe wielded by his party in government.

Keith Soulsby also had a letter published blaming moving County Hall as a waste of money.

From what I understand, County Hall is not fit for purpose. It is too big, not fuel efficient, expensive to maintain and action has got to be taken to address this, no matter which political party is in power.

It is currently costing a huge amount of taxpayer’s money to run a building that is no longer cost effective.

So does the council sit on its hands and continue to waste our money, seemingly as Peter Jackson would like?

Or does it make a rational choice to cut its losses, sell off the present building on prime land in Morpeth, and build a smaller, more efficient, greener and cheaper to run building, which will also help in regenerating Ashington and in the long-term will pay for itself on the savings made by not heating and maintaining a leaky County Hall that is well past its best?

To me, it seems that the investment in moving County Hall to Ashington shows vision and good management.

If only our local Conservatives would applaud this initiative and have a word with their party in Whitehall about the savage cuts that are really to blame for the decline in care and services in Northumberland.

M Wright

Cramlington