Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Letter: Timescale for Northumberland Unitary Consultation Far Too Short

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Letter: Timescale for Northumberland Unitary Consultation Far Too Short

Article excerpt

Byline: Voice of the North

ON behalf of the Parish Councils of Cresswell, Ellington and Linton, Lynemouth, Longhirst, Ulgham, Widdrington Station and Stobswood, Pegswood and Widdrington Village, with regard to the proposed unitary reorganisation in Northumberland and Characteristic Communities:

NORTHUMBERLAND is now in the midst of reorganisation into a unitary authority.

Part of the single unitary bid approved by central government includes the organisation of Northumberland into three Characteristic Communities that supposedly are similar in needs, aspirations and character.

The above parishes feel the time-scale of the consultation period has been far too short, many only receiving the information on October 15. Parish councils need to consult their parishioners on this very important matter before a democratic stance can be taken on behalf of our communities.

Due in part to the recent postal strikes, the information has come out too late for adequate consultation to take place. Therefore, we have requested additional time, as we assume the Northumberland Strategic Partnership would wish to take into consideration the wishes of the communities.

The parishes were dismayed to find that a similar approach has been taken to the consultation over Belonging Communities, with the parish councils being amongst the last bodies to be consulted. In fact, only a very small number of parishes were on the list of consultees from NSP.

This is a disgraceful situation. When the new unitary authority is in place, the unitary councillors and parish councillors will be the only representatives elected by their communities. All parish councils should have been properly consulted by the NSP from the beginning and before any maps were issued.

The parish councils feel the decision to send out the information on Characteristic Communities as part of the county council magazine, Your County, was wrong.

To put this proposal in a county document gives the impression that this has already been decided, rather than it being a genuine consultation exercise. Also, the naming of the three proposed areas on the map - the rural border land, the urban coastal plain and the rural hinterland to Tyneside - implies that Northumberland is seen as an adjunct to Tyneside and Scotland. …

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