Labour leader of Durham County Council Simon Henig recently published a list of 120 Things Labour Has Done For County Durham in the last four years.
PROTECTING LOCAL SERVICES
Few people will read the whole list, but we have done so, and one thing that immediately becomes clear is that, despite £¼billion per year cuts in government funding, Durham County Council has maintained a good standard of public services … which contrasts markedly with the national news of government cronyism and wasted multi-billion contracts.
And, whilst government insists on a centralised one-size-fits-all model of levelling up which is delivering mainly for Tory MPs’ constituencies and has so far failed to deliver ANYTHING for Sedgefield area, our Labour County Council has managed to find from its constrained finances a £25million regeneration scheme which is being implemented across the whole county in discussion with the local communities involved.
Nowhere do we see the Tories’ out-of-touch Westminster focus more clearly than in planning, where their Planning for the Future white paper is proposing to set up ‘Growth Areas’ where planning consent is automatically assumed, and where developers will bypass planning committees and public objections. (This must be opposed.)
By contrast to a Tory government which seeks to abandon residents to big business, the mission of the County Council for the past decade has been to protect the people of County Durham – and particularly the vulnerable members of our society.
DCC is one of only a few councils in England which still exempts its poorest residents from paying Council Tax and, during the pandemic, DCC used the Hardship Fund to provide up to £300 additional council tax relief to thousands of households. The Council allocated £3million for support to vulnerable people; and when the Tories refused to do so, stepped in and provided free holiday meals to 10,000 children. Meanwhile, our ‘one-stop shop’ Coronavirus Hub (03000 260 260) advised and helped 75,000 residents who had a Coronavirus-related problem during the pandemic.
Central to this determination to protect have been County Durham Labour’s extensive and highly successful environmental and climate policies. And – where DCC recently won the national accolade of ‘best climate initiative’ – we note that a recent UN report recorded that the Tory government is failing to live up to its climate rhetoric.
BUILDING BACK AFTER THE PANDEMIC
Coronavirus has shown us what matters most. As we emerge from the crisis, we need more investment to secure much-needed services, and we need to build a future society which is more caring, green, equal and fair.
Sedgefield CLP Campaigns team