First business is establishment of area councils

Coun Peter Jackson, leader of Northumberland Conservatives, outside County Hall in Morpeth.
Coun Peter Jackson, leader of Northumberland Conservatives, outside County Hall in Morpeth.

The Tories are wasting no time in putting plans into action as the introduction of five local area councils goes before the new authority’s first meeting.

Following the elections on May 4, Northumberland County Council meets for the first time on Wednesday and the Conservatives, now the largest group, are planning a major shake-up, to include a reduction in the number of committees by eight.

The duties of the existing seven scrutiny committees will be reallocated to four – family and children’s services; health and wellbeing; corporate services and economic growth; and communities and place – but the biggest change is the establishment of the local councils, which will make decisions on planning applications, roads spending and transport priorities.

The five areas are North Northumberland, Castle Morpeth, Tynedale, Ashington and Blyth, and Cramlington and Bedlington.

The Castle Morpeth area council will be made up of the following county-council wards: Bothal, Choppington, Druridge Bay, Longhorsley, Lynemouth, Morpeth Kirkhill, Morpeth North, Morpeth Stobhill, Ponteland East and Stannington, Ponteland North, Ponteland South with Heddon, Ponteland West, and Pegswood.

A report to next week’s meeting states that ‘it is anticipated that the new proposals will save around £62,000 in allowances compared with the present system’.

Conservative group leader, Coun Peter Jackson, said: “Our Conservative Group has been honoured to receive enthusiastic support from all corners of our county.

“Now that we are by far the largest group on the county council, it is our responsibility to deliver on our manifesto promises. Some we can move on quickly, but others will take a while to work through.

“People told us that they wanted a council which works with them rather than impose unpopular plans in the autocratic way of the last four years under Labour.

“Not only will we work closer with communities, but we will save taxpayers a considerable amount – £250,000 over the next four years which the council can put back into essential daily services.

“This is the start of a county that works for all.”