Spotlight thrown on local services

COUNCIL services will be put in the spotlight in a survey of Morpeth residents.

Morpeth Town Council will ask residents about the importance of specific services in a partial review of the Town Plan.

Members decided to take action after Northumberland County Council revealed in December that it was considering withdrawing or reducing some services and facilities in an attempt to cut budgets, and was giving town and parish authorities the chance to take them on.

The immediate review was put on hold following outcry from the smaller councils that they had insufficient time or information to make decisions before the budget-setting process, however county officials said discussions on the issue will take place later this year.

Morpeth councillors are drawing up a set of criteria to determine which services they would consider taking over, but residents are also being asked for their input in a survey of their priorities.

At a meeting of the full council, Coun Nic Best said: “A suggestion from the monitoring group was that it would be appropriate to have a limited review of the Town Plan in light of service provision review, concentrating fairly well on the range of services that are under threat.

“The results can then be used as the basis for discussions with the county council. We can have those discussions in the summer so that in September the council can start to make some budgetary decisions.”

The council’s Finance and General Purposes Committee agreed last week that £4,000 from the Town Plan development budget can be used to support the review.

The survey is expected to be published in the council’s magazine and will be discussed at its annual assembly.