Council boss hits out at Budget

Sunderland City Council boss, Cllr Graeme Miller, says he is “massively disappointed” the area is not to be one of the country’s free ports.

By Tom Patterson
Thursday, 4th March 2021, 10:29 am
Updated Thursday, 4th March 2021, 10:41 am
Sunderland City Council leader Cllr Graeme Miller.
Sunderland City Council leader Cllr Graeme Miller.

He also says Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget statement on Wednesday failed to offer specific plans for the North East.

Cllr Miller said: “We welcome the extension to the furlough scheme, the temporary continuation of increased Universal Credit payments and financial support packages for sectors of the economy which have suffered so much over the past year.

“But we were massively disappointed to have missed out on freeport status which would have brought so much to this area in a once in a generation opportunity to transform the lives of millions of people.

"Nor was there any mention of specific plans for our region or anything of note for Nissan or our International Advanced Manufacturing Park.”

Cllr Miller said that, ahead of the budget, the North East had presented a compelling case for playing a leading role in the national recovery.

He added: “What we need to see from the Government now is a further commitment to equipping different regions to lead their own local recoveries, building on the knowledge, expertise and understanding that they have of their own communities to help us to recover from the greatest economic shock any of us have ever seen and get our city and our region back on track.

“We and other local authorities, and our partners have wide-ranging plans from proven public transport schemes such as the Metro extension that can bring many benefits to others that can grow the low-carbon economy.

"Alas, there was no recognition of them in this budget.”

Cllr Miller said the council would continue to press ahead with its own plans to grow our economy and help the recovery from the impact of Covid 19.

He said: “In our own budget, we’ve focussed on delivering our ambitious social and economic regeneration plans for the city at the same time as ensuring we continue to protect and support those most in need.

“These are the types of plans and ideals that the Chancellor appears to have missed for Sunderland and our partner authorities.”.