Gripe over County Hall in short film

Northumberland County Council's headquarters in Morpeth.
Northumberland County Council's headquarters in Morpeth.
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A new film explaining Northumberland County Council’s market towns initiative is now available online.

It has been created to set out the reasons behind the Labour administration’s plans for its nine major towns, including the relocation of County Hall from Morpeth to smaller premises in Ashington.

This includes how it can best manage services as a result of huge cuts in funding from the Government.

But a Morpeth councillor has criticised the video for not mentioning the cost of the headquarters move – his party said this week that the cost could end up much higher than the original £32million figure.

Labour has said it will save the council money in the long term as it would be more expensive to refurbish or downsize the current premises.

Conservative councillor David Bawn, who represents the Morpeth North ward, said: “It is true that in the current climate difficult choices need to be made, however, council taxpayers may be more concerned that in these straightened times the council is set on a capital spending splurge for political purposes.

“We want it to concentrate on delivering services and not engage in vanity projects like demolishing County Hall and building a brand new councillors’ palace in Ashington.”

Part of the market towns initiative includes locating facilities together under one roof wherever possible.

The authority is also looking to sell off its surplus buildings to bring in significant income.

Council leader Grant Davey said: “Making sure everyone has a good understanding of the reasons behind our initiative is vital, as it will be the public who will reap the benefits of services being located together in our market towns in fresh, modern facilities.”

To see the film, including the section about County Hall, go to www.northumberland.gov.uk/future