Appointment eases concern over planning

TOWN councillors have welcomed a shake-up in a county planning committee to provide more local representation.

Morpeth Town Council has raised concerns that the area had no representative on Northumberland County Council’s North Area Planning Committee.

Members were particularly concerned given the many major planning applications coming forward for the town.

And while Alnwick and Berwick each had two members on the committee, the nearest councillor to Morpeth was Scott Dickinson, who represents Druridge Bay.

Morpeth is still without representation on the group, but now Pegswood councillor Alan Sambrook, whose area includes Longhirst, Ulgham, Stobswood, Tritlington, West Chevington and Hebron, has been appointed, taking Coun Dickinson’s place.

As well as representing neighbouring communities, Coun Sambrook is well acquainted with Morpeth, having previously served as Leader of the former Castle Morpeth Borough Council.

He is also no stranger to planning, having served at both borough and county level in the past.

He said: “I have served on planning before and I enjoyed it. It is one of those committees where everybody can get along because it is non-political.

“Everybody is there trying to get the best for the community and you can have a good debate.

“I think it does help having a councillor there with local knowledge, for example, this is a former mining area and I’m aware of some of the problems with stythe gas that people need to be aware of in planning.

“It is also helpful knowing how the community feels about applications, though you have to listen to all of the arguments put forward before making a decision.”

Morpeth Town Council Planning and Transport Committee Chairman, Ken Brown, said: “Alan Sambrook has a good working knowledge of Morpeth and I think it is a good appointment. Our pressure may have had something to do with that.”