Campaigner praises town achievements

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MORPETH Town Council has been held up as a shining example of local government in action by a group of campaigners who want to set up a similar authority where they live.

Since the merger of Durham City Council into a unitary county authority in 2009, a group of residents in the area have been calling for a new authority with similar powers to a town council to be established to fill the void.

One of the main campaigners, Nigel Martin, a Liberal Democrat county councillor and university academic, recently visited Morpeth to find out what the town council does for its residents and he was impressed with what he saw.

He wrote on his blog: “On our walkabout we came across a signboard, which shows what an active town council can do to serve its local community.

“The list includes employing a river warden, managing the play areas, bus shelters, community centres, notice boards, tourist information, public conveniences, a tree planting programme, dealing with graffiti, and much more.

“If you go to the Morpeth Town Council website and click on ‘Services’ you can see a pretty comprehensive account of what this active local council does, and details on each of its activities.

“A lot of things are being done in partnership with Northumberland County Council and with other agencies, but there is a lot happening and this town council is definitely making a difference in its area.”

Mr Martin added: “A common question whenever I get into discussion with people about a future town council for Durham City is ‘What can it do?’

“Well, go to Morpeth Town Council’s website and you can get a really good flavour of what is possible.”

Officials in Morpeth are delighted to receive the endorsement.

Morpeth Town Council Deputy Clerk Angela Logan said: “It’s nice to receive compliments about how we deliver services for the benefit of residents and it’s a boost for everyone associated with the council to be praised by someone outside the area.

“If the campaigners would like to have a chat with us about other things we have done, such as securing quality status, they would be very welcome.

“We’re always looking to improve and to do that we need residents to tell us about services that they think could be better or new things that we could take on.”