Tuesday, 01 December 2015

Subscriptions  |  evouchers  |  Jobs  |  Property  |  Motors  |  Travel  |  Dating  |  Family Notices

Cumbrians left in limbo by Government's constant dithering

How much time and money is wasted and how much anguish and mental suffering is caused by useless government rethinks and reassessments?

af Peter Luff
Making their minds up: Peter Luff, left, and Jeremy Hunt

I ask the question because many families in Cumbria now face an agonising wait on two decisions to be re-taken by the government.

It has been announced that the decision to operate the specialist children’s heart unit at Newcastle’s Freeman hospital is to be re-examined.

It was announced in July that the north east unit, which serves most of Cumbria as well, would continue to operate, while three others in Leeds, Leicester and London would lose their specialist surgery provision for youngsters.

But now, following the threat of legal action from the other hospitals, new health secretary Jeremy Hunt has asked and independent panel to review this summer’s ruling.

If that is overturned, it will have a serious effect on the future of the Newcastle unit and stricken children from Cumbria would have to travel to Leeds or Liverpool for surgery.

Now we will have to wait until the end of February for the latest, perhaps final decision. There is a massive emotional cost to all this – for workers who live on a knife-edge fearing for the future of their jobs, but more importantly, it is awful for those families who use the unit and depend on it to save the lives of their children.

Meanwhile, at Longtown, union leaders, local politicians and others have to go over the well-worn and regularly rehearsed reasons for saving the MOD munitions plant, all for the benefit of the new junior minister.

Defence Minister Philip Dunne is considering proposals to close DM Longtown in 2014, transferring its explosives-storage function to Kineton in Warwickshire.

This had already been looked at by his predecessor, Peter Luff, who seemed to support the idea of at least keeping some jobs at the depot.

A delegation of trades union and Cumbria County Council representatives met Mr Dunne in London last week, while MP Rory Stewart has written to the PM to raise the issue of the future of the 300 people who work there.

Mr Stewart said: “My view was that we had won over Peter Luff and we very unlucky to get a change of minister.”

Of course, it’s not simply about those 300, but the wider effects the closure would have on the town itself and the economy in the area.

Mr Dunne said he would decide by the end of this month whether to close the site or provide a stay of execution to re-examine the case for keeping it open which would again mean yet another agonising and uncertain wait for all concerned.

Surely if one member of the Government launches an inquiry or makes a decision over a project, it should be accepted by their successor.

Mind you, after saying all that, look at what has happened over the decision to award the contract to run the West Coast mainline. It was only when Patrick McLoughlin replaced the hapless Justine Greening as Transport Secretary and reinvestigated the bidding process that it was revealed to be a complete cock-up.

I just hope for the sake of Newcastle and Longtown that the original decisions made over their futures survive any reappraisals.


News & Star What's On search


Will a new tattoo studio in Carlisle persuade you to get a tattoo?

Yes - I might be tempted

No - I don't like tattoos

I would rather go to a more established studio

Show Result

Hot jobs
Scan for our iPhone and Android apps
Search for: