Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Labour 'Sought a PS75m Loan' for Controversial Village Plan

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Labour 'Sought a PS75m Loan' for Controversial Village Plan

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael Muncaster Reporter

NORTHUMBERLAND County Council were in talks to loan a housing developer PS75m for a controversial 2,000 home garden village scheme, it has been claimed.

Newcastle's Lugano Property Group wants to build housing and other facilities on land at Dissington, near Ponteland.

But the plans have faced strenuous opposition from people who claimed local services would not be able to cope with the added population.

In March the former Labour-run council granted "outline" planning permission for the development, approving it in principle.

Now, council leader Peter Jackson, who is also leader of the Northumberland Conservatives, claims the previous administration had intended to grant the developer a PS75m loan for the project.

He said: "We learned about this loan very early on during the administration and were actually quite shocked.

"It just demonstrates the arrogance of the former administration that they would not only pass this despite the huge objection, but they would seek to fund it."

Ponteland East And Stannington Coun Eileen Armstrong said she was appalled to learn of the plans for the loan.

"Lending such a large amount of taxpayer's money to pay for a private development is outrageous," she said.

"I am so thankful that we were able to depose the former administration before the loan could be passed."

The Northumberland Labour Group hit back and denied having any knowledge of the loan.

The members then called on Coun Jackson to show the evidence in public.

A group spokesman said: "When immediately challenged by members of the Labour Group that they had not heard of that loan or seen the information and that as the accusation had been made in the public arena they demanded to see the evidence.

"Coun Jackson said he was 'willing to show it in private'."

But Lugano chairman Richard Robson confirmed the company was approached by the former Labour-run council six months ago to discuss funding the housing project. …

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