MP hits back at Lib Dem council leader's winter of discontent warning

North Devon Gazette

North Devon MP Selaine Saxby (Conservative) has responded to serious criticism from the area’s Liberal Democrat council leader that Boris Johnson’s government is ‘incompetent’ and a warning that the area is heading into a new ‘winter of discontent’.Â

The MP hit back at the criticism from council leader David Worden saying he and his team were, ‘unwilling, or just incapable of delivering improvements’ and that the government is already addressing many of his concerns.Â

Ms Saxby said: “The Government continues to focus on building back better from the pandemic, enabled by our world leading vaccination programme.  Whilst others choose to sit on the sidelines and criticise we are focused on the very real business of investing in our NHS, increasing the number of police on our streets and working with council officers to ensure our local community have the opportunities to level up.Â

“As the world emerges from the global pandemic, the UK’s economy is the fastest growing of the G7. North Devon has received its fair share of the £400+ billion invested to protect jobs and businesses.Â

“This support has to come to an end, and there are now many, many job vacancies here in North Devon for those wanting to increase their income, as well as the Lifetime Skills Guarantee to help those in work, improve their skills to find a better job as we move to a higher skilled economy.Â

“There is also the safety net of the £500 million Hardship Fund announced last week by the Government to help those families in our community that need it most via our local councils.  It is unfortunate that North Devon’s Council Leader appears so unaware of the resources already available to help local families.Â

“Planning resides with North Devon Council, and I have already detailed many steps that could have been taken locally to start to address the housing situation.  Much of which is a result of the pandemic with more people wanting to visit and move to North Devon, but other elements have been with us for some time, such as derelict homes for example – I raised this shortly after being elected as Instow District Councillor, pre-pandemic in May 2019 – and the growth in second home ownership and lack of covenants to restrict new properties to local residents.Â

“Barnstaple High Street has been identified by our County Council as the most economically vulnerable part of the whole of Devon.  Whilst I continue to work with our excellent Council officers at all levels to see what can be done and raise matters with ministers, much of the work done this summer was by the fantastic volunteers of Barnstaple in Bloom and so much more can be done.  Â

“Unfortunately, too many of our leading Liberal Democrat Councillors, like David Worden, seem unable, unwilling, or just incapable of delivering improvements to our town centre without the Government paying most of the bill.  I hope councillors will look at the results of my recent survey to see what local people want, much of which is already within the Council’s power to deliver:”Â

If you missed council leader David Worden’s statement click to here to read it.