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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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Nuclear snub would ‘seal our fate’: MP

THE only way Copeland can survive brutal budget cuts is by hosting an underground nuclear waste repository, says the borough’s MP, Jamie Reed.

At a public meeting on Friday, Mr Reed said failing to back a nuclear new-build, including the potential major waste disposal facility, would “seal the area’s fate”.

The Labour MP called the meeting to discuss Copeland’s future in light of the government cuts, under which Copeland Borough Council must save £2.6m by 2015.

He told those gathered in the Civic Hall in Whitehaven: “We are in a critical time in the history of our area, and the cuts will result in massive changes, but we have the chance to shapes these changes. Failure to act now will seal our fate, and the choices we make need to include three new nuclear reactors, a new Mox facility at Sellafield, and an underground repository.

“The jobs and community benefits these developments will create are key to our future.”

Copeland, Allerdale and Cumbria county councils will decide on January 4 whether to proceed to the next stage of the process.

“This is the biggest decision they will ever have to make – and it would be a disaster if they vote not to proceed.

“It would be the single greatest betrayal of our community,” said Mr Reed.

Amid speculation that Cumbria County Council is minded to vote against proceeding to the next stage, Mr Reed was asked by an audience member if Copeland could act alone.

He replied that it was a “genuine possibility” but would not be drawn any further.

Under cost-saving proposals, which are out to public consultation until December 7, Copeland Borough Council will withdraw several funding streams from Millom. The council’s annual grant for the upkeep of the St George’s Road toilet block will be removed and all borough-owned car parks are to be removed from the budget.

The Discretionary Concessionary Travel Scheme is also being scrapped and floral displays will be removed and re-seeded with grass.

The first of two budget cuts consultation meetings in Millom will take place tomorrow, from 6pm to 7.30pm, at Millom Network Centre.

The other will take place on November 27, from 2pm to 4pm, at Millom Guide Hall, off St George’s Road.

Mr Reed told the meeting: “Austerity will not beat us. Our best days are ahead of us – if we want them.”

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