This week there has been a lot of noise in the national media about the Autumn Statement. This is the Chancellor's chance to update the country on the Government's plans for the economy. Following the hype, excitement or disappointment surrounding certain building projects or spending plans with a bit of digging we often find things quickly unravel or are identified as repeated old news. Once more we see the problems that come from planning everything centrally in London.
My proposal is to empower local people who have knowledge of what they are dealing with. For example, the decisions on where and whether to allow the building of new homes in Bassetlaw should be directed by the people who live in our communities, not 150 miles away in Westminster. I will pressure this Government and the next to allow local residents to make smart choices for their own neighbourhoods.
The last few years have dramatically exposed how out of touch London politicians are and moving Government jobs out of the capital is an important step that I believe would give some much-needed perspective. We have all seen the media reports of London-based politicians caught sneering at people outside of London or who have been exposed after they have been rude to members of the public for just doing their job. There has been good news however as my plan to move Government departments out of London is gaining considerable support. Instead of cutting police numbers and support for the NHS, the next Government should sell off the prime real estate in the centre of London that currently houses several departments. The jobs in each department should then be moved further north to new premises, resulting in a net saving of millions of pounds to the taxpayer. In policy as well as in planning the UK would benefit from more key decisions being made outside of the bubble occupied by the London elite.
Last year I pushed this proposal up the agenda when I placed Bills before Parliament that, if agreed it would have moved departments to Nottingham, Bristol, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle. I intend to put these plans forward again because it is time to spread wealth and jobs more evenly around the country and importantly we can make money back for the taxpayer at the same time.
It is unsurprising that most people now support renationalising the railways. The success of the publicly-owned East Coast Rail has cemented the popularity of nationalised railways and also demonstrated that is unwise to carelessly privatise every asset we own. The line earned the taxpayer almost £1 billion over five years and it rates consistently as one of the best for passenger satisfaction. It is important to remember that the taxpayer had to step in last time to save the line after the private provider fell apart, but now we are once again selling off one of our best assets. I am monitoring the benefits that the new buyers have promised Retford and the suspicion remains that the sell-off has been for ideological reasons as opposed to being in the best interests of passengers and the taxpayer.