Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Council spending consultation “remote and inaccessible for many”

Liberal Democrats in Blaydon constituency have slammed a consultation process by Gateshead Council into spending cuts as “remote and inaccessible.” And they have compared it to Northumberland’s consultation which they describe as “open and in touch.”

Gateshead Council are currently looking at cuts of up to £60 million over the next three years, caused by Government ministers slashing the amount of cash given to councils to support local services.

Gateshead held two consultation meetings for residents but Neil Bradbury, a leading Liberal Democrat campaigner in Blaydon has attacked the Council for holding both sessions in Gateshead town centre.

Neil, who is hoping to be elected as the MP for Blaydon in the general election in a few weeks’ time, said, “Gateshead is a large borough. Blaydon constituency covers the western half of the borough and is made up of small towns and villages.

“Gateshead’s decision to hold both consultation meetings in the town centre will make them inaccessible for many of the people I hope to represent after the general election.

“It seems to me that the views of people from the west of the borough are being ignored by Labour. This is not on. Labour must rethink its consultation and hold meetings in towns such as Birtley, Whickham, Blaydon, Ryton and Rowlands Gill.

“The contrast with Liberal Democrat run Northumberland County Council is remarkable. There we have held 12 meetings around the county. In Gateshead, people will only be let in to the meetings if they apply in advance. In Northumberland they are open to all residents.

“The difference in approach between Lib Dem Northumberland and Labour Gateshead is remarkable. All councils are having to face up to huge cuts as Labour are slashing the amount they are giving to councils to spend on services.

“But in Northumberland we have made it much easier for people to come along and give their views. Labour in Gateshead have a great deal to learn from us.”

1 comment:

Tom said...

I didn't even know there were any consultation meetings or I'd have done my best to get there, however inconvenient they try to make it.

It's important that the right things are cut (I'm sure there is scope) and not the wrong things. Presumably they are frightened that if they consult people in the west, where there is more LibDem support, they might get the "wrong" feedback.