Tyne & Wear

Northumberland Council leader's plea over looming cuts

The Lib-Dem leader of Northumberland County Council has urged the coalition government not to "turn the tap off too quickly" in forthcoming spending cuts.

More than half of people in Morpeth are employed in public sector roles, according to the TUC.

Jeff Reid admitted Chancellor George Osborne's spending review announcement on 20 October would hit the area badly.

He said the county needed time to replace public sector jobs with a "regalvanised private sector".

Morpeth has 52.9% of its working population employed by the public sector - the largest proportion in England.

This followed an expansion of public sector roles to counteract the loss of traditional industries like coal mining in the 1980s and 1990s.

Mr Reid said: "The are no two ways about it, it is going to be tough.

"We have to be weaned off government support and be able to fend for ourselves.

"But it is a challenge and if we get ourselves in a downward spiral about how depressing it is going to be, then I think we are doing ourselves a disservice.

"The people of Northumberland are resilient and they will find other work.

"What I am hoping the government won't do is turn the tap off too quickly, simply because of the high proportion of people we have working in the public sector.

"Now we have to turn things around and regalvanise the private sector. We have to get people to bring jobs and create businesses here and you cannot do that overnight."

The TUC has warned that women in the county will be hardest hit by the government's proposed spending cuts.

It said almost 50% of women work in the public sector, compared to fewer than one in three men.

A spokesman said the organisation feared thousands of women would lose their livelihoods.