As we feel our way nervously out of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is vital that rural as well as urban areas of the county receive the support they need to recover.
Our towns and the people and businesses in them will need tailored packages of support. Just as importantly, rural areas, businesses and the people who depend on them for their livelihoods will need support.
Rural areas with their B&Bs, pubs and independent shops and cafes contribute massively to the economy of Northumberland.
As we look to reopen as a county we must ensure that the support we can give locally as a County Council does not forget the majority of small business, whether in our towns or the countryside.
We know the government, locally and nationally, has said it will support larger businesses, this must not be at the expense of small businesses, particularly in rural areas.
Whether large, medium or small, all business are going to need a helping hand to recover. It will not be case of one size fits all. All businesses need to be considered individually and they need to know the county council is on their side.
The Labour group wants to reach out to small business and be part of their road to recovery.
We will be lobbying government locally and nationally to make sure Northumberland is not forgotten and we will work hard to protect people in disadvantaged communities who have been hit hardest by the government’s brutal austerity programme in the past 10 years.
The Prime Minister has said austerity is not a word he wants to use again and he does not believe that more austerity measures are a way out of this crisis. He says he is committed to levelling up, which I take to mean improving opportunities for poorer people and communities so we can all enjoy the standard of living and life chances of those who are better off.
We shall see if he is as good as his word. In the meantime we will continue to bang the drum for this beautiful county and the people who live here.