County Durham spent £1.3 million on consultants, Darlington spent £116,385, and yet neither received any funding from the upgrade pot. This involves considerable sums of public money, to which plenty of officer time should initially be added.
Analysis of the latest round of grant increases led to accusations of “sleazy pork politics” as it emerged constituencies with Conservative MPs earned £19.47 per head more than those without Conservative MPs.
The trial, designed to highlight the government’s generosity to the regions, shows how tightly monetary policy is still controlled in London. The North East as a whole received £55m in this round of funding, but County Durham – one of the regions in the country most in need of boosting – was after £100m and got nothing.
Having spent £1.3m on the tender process, the company is actually falling even further behind.
Does this mean that only the areas that spend the most on consultants win when it comes to raising money? What kind of crazy system is this? What kind of government encourages local areas to gamble with their taxpayers’ money in hopes of making big profits?
And what does it say about devolution when department officials in Whitehall make funding decisions without consulting with local people in the regions?
“Rise up” was a great slogan when Boris Johnson coined it, and the Treasury’s arrival in Darlington must be recognized as a major step forward. However, many will now feel that the entire process has not only left a bitter taste in the mouth, but has actually caused a kick in the teeth.
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