Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

PS5m a Mile in the Cause of Labour's Ideological Muddle? It Just Isn't Worth It; Last Week, Grant Davey, the Labour Leader of Northumberland County Council, Wrote in the Journal about Plans to Revitalise the County's Towns - Including the Scheme to Shift the County HQ from Morpeth to Ashington. Here, Conservative Counterpart PETER JACKSON Says Those Plans Are Deeply Flawed

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

PS5m a Mile in the Cause of Labour's Ideological Muddle? It Just Isn't Worth It; Last Week, Grant Davey, the Labour Leader of Northumberland County Council, Wrote in the Journal about Plans to Revitalise the County's Towns - Including the Scheme to Shift the County HQ from Morpeth to Ashington. Here, Conservative Counterpart PETER JACKSON Says Those Plans Are Deeply Flawed

Article excerpt

Byline: PETER JACKSON

IN a lengthy piece in The Journal on June 29 by Coun Grant Davey, leader of Northumberland County Council, there were a number of attempts made by him to justify his dream of relocating County Hall from Morpeth to Ashington.

The cost of this project has ballooned to around PS27m, although this figure has been escalating quite regularly. Interestingly, the distance from Morpeth to Ashington is some five miles - making a cost to our Council taxpayers of PS5m per mile to move.

The lifetime cost of the new County Hall project is now approaching PS60m of taxpayer's money and so it is not surprising that there is a great deal of public interest in what many see as an unnecessary and unjusti-fied attempt to relocate the main operational centre of the county council.

However, despite the many hundreds of words in the article by Cllr Davey and the flawed council reports which have been issued, there has still been no plausible or realistic justification for this hugely expensive use of public money.

Of the supposed economic bene-fits of this investment a close reading of the consultants' report shows that little will filter down to Ashington but that any benefit will be spread across the whole region.

In a kind of ideological muddle, Labour have a vision of transforming a whole area and boosting widespread economic wellbeing by creating a single building that will house local government officers in part of a town.

But it takes more than this to bring about regeneration - no matter how expensive the building might be.

What is needed is a much more balanced approach within an overall strategic plan for the community.

In fact this plan of taking valuable land for the Council Headquarters could well have the adverse effect of actually crowding out any future development in that area which might be more suited to the town centre.

Labour should perhaps study examples elsewhere and look at how successful Conservatives have been with transformation projects in a range of towns and cities across the UK. Nearer to home, the Conservative Government-funded Morpeth Link Road will bring huge benefits as will the Morpeth Flood Alleviation Scheme. …

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