At the recent BBC Radio Northampton debate, Phil Hope MP told a good yarn about investment in Corby. He didn’t mention the way that the rural part of the constituency gets starved of funds while the town gets the money. Cllr Sean Lever, with his detailed local knowledge, puts this in context, and his comments represent a clarion call for localism — which the Conservatives will deliver if elected on Thursday. His comment appears under the BBC piece below, but is worth re-stating in its own right. I especially liked East Northants Council’s clear stand against the folly of wind-farms.
As a member representing Irthlingborough, which is in the Corby constituency, local people tell me “Corby gets all the money”. On the ground it’s obvious to any observer this is true. Whilst some areas do need a boost to help regenerate needy locales, it’s the disproportionate nature of spending across boundaries that concerns local people. It’s no coincidence that Corby is a Labour marginal seat and other parts of Northamptonshire are largely Conservative held. Guess where the tax pounds are spent? The shocker, when you explain this to electors, is that it’s not local Councillors or Council officers who decide where the money is spent it’s unelected regional government offices (GOEM, in our case) and development QUANGOs (NNDC WNDC EMDA etc). They are just the superannuated agents of Labour’s central command and control structure, gerrymandering tax payers cash into areas that have previously voted Labour.
The flip side of the coin sees the housing and density targets fostered on local councils in planning policy guidance and statements that have resulted in unwanted blocks of flats being built across our towns. Of course, the population rises this causes is not mitigated by funding for local infrastructure or services, for schools or roads – no these problems are left for local councils to mop up with whilst the treasury pockets all the tax receipts from growth.
This is why we must get back to a localised decision making regime, where accountable, elected people can truly represent their electorate. For the record, East Northamptonshire council recently refused to adopt an unacceptable planning policy from GOEM that meant more winds farms, more flats and no infrastructure money. No council has ever done this before, but the feeling of members was so strong we were prepared to take the Labour medicine, if they ever get back into power.