In 2012, Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government ensured local councils took control of public health from the NHS - and had a budget to go with the new powers.
They argued that councils are far better placed to address public health issues than the centralised, top down targets created by the previous Labour government.
After 2012, when the powers and the budgets were handed over, the only complaints came from Labour who attacked the Lib Dems for “not spending enough” on public health.
Sadly for Labour - and the residents of Gateshead - Labour’s agenda of all talk and no action has now put at risk £1 million of Gateshead’s public health money.
The Coalition Government gave Gateshead £12 million in 2014-15 for public health. The money can be spent only on public health. Labour inaction on the health issues facing Gateshead meant £1 million was left unspent.
And with the Conservatives now in government without the restraining hand of the Lib Dems to guide them along a liberal direction, George Osborne is planning a raid on unspent public health cash. And that could mean Gateshead handing back £1 million to the Treasury.
“Our area has significant public health issues such as alcohol and drug abuse, obesity and tobacco related diseases,” said Cllr Jonathan Wallace, Leader of the Opposition on Gateshead Council. “I find it quite shocking that Labour cried foul when the money was awarded to Gateshead. I find it even more shocking that, having claimed they had insufficient money, they then left £1 million unspent which we may now have to return to the Government.”