Since taking control of the County Council in May 2017 Northumberland Conservatives have laid the foundations of a prosperous county. We have achieved so much in the last year and have dealt with some serious challenges. We are overcoming those challenges and are on the way to re-building our county after decades of neglect. In 2019 and beyond, I am looking forward to a new and optimistic future for Northumberland.
The 'Beast from the East' was an unexpected challenge early last year and I would like to thank county council staff for their incredible work. The public looked to us for help and I was delighted with how we responded.
We also continue to address the legacy of debt from the previous Labour administration and are striving to deliver services more effectively. My administration looks for solutions to problems rather than using the excuses of the past.
We are well on the way to investing the £100 million which we promised for roads in Northumberland and are exploring options for a much needed relief road for Blyth. Bringing back passenger rail services to South East Northumbeland is also top priority after years of broken promises from Labour. The dualling of the A1 will begin this year and we’ll continue to back further upgrades and improvements.
We are the only county in the North of England building new schools. To compliment that we’re increasing capacities and improving facilities at others. Our focus is to improve standards for all.
Arch has been abolished and residents continue to learn why this was an important step. We have set up a new development company to Advance Northumberland’s economic opportunities which has already started delivering jobs and growth.
Labour’s Developers Charter has been removed, stopping the 26,000 new houses in the county which would have added more pressure onto our communities. We have established a new Local Plan which will focus on jobs and the economy over big housing developments. Our Plan will create up to 15,000 new jobs and will be passed early in the new year.
Northumbrians are rightly proud of the area they live in. This year that pride was shared by thousands of others nationwide as they backed Northumberland as the number one tourist county in the UK. We can build on this success together by backing the initiatives our council is delivering. ‘Discover our Land’ will launch in early 2019 to promote all the things that make Northumberland great.
The foundations are now in place to build an economy in which all of our neighbours can achieve their potential. Advance Northumberland is appealing to global companies to invest in our county, with some major announcements expected over the coming year. The Conservative government is backing our region with two vital devolution packages. The ‘North of Tyne’ area will boost our economy with a £600 million growth fund while improving education and training to make sure Northumbrians are well placed to make the most of the opportunities North of Tyne devolution will deliver. The Borderlands Growth Deal will also help stimulate growth in rural areas on both sides of the border. Thanks to this commitment from central government our future success will be in our own hands.
The foundations we have laid will increase the opportunities available for all Northumbrians. They will also make sure we’re equipped with the skills needed to make the most of a strong, progressive county. We will continue to celebrate our culture and heritage, protecting it for future generations so that we can make sure Northumberland achieves its potential. 2019 will be our year, but only if we build together.