Councillor Robert Arckless, Northumberland County Council Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, suggests that the missed opportunity to develop new educational and leisure facilities on the Morpeth County Hall site is not the fault of the council.
This is despite the major Learning Trust in the town informing the council that the proposal would not be in the educational interests of its pupils.
This is little wonder given that the proposal was on the back of a fag packet and involved cramming four schools, 3,000 pupils and a leisure centre onto a site that is considerably smaller than the existing sites.
It was the equivalent of trying to pour a quart into a pint pot and was a non-starter from the outset.
What I would be interested to learn is what Morpeth residents thought of the proposal?
A consultation exercise on the £50million investment was undertaken last November, which coincidently was the about the same time that the Labour leadership was pushing through a decision to build a new County Hall in Ashington.
As I have not seen any findings published, could Councillor Arckless, via the Herald, inform readers whether Morpeth residents agreed with the Learning Trust or whether they agreed with his view that the council knows best?
If it is the case that both residents and the Learning Trust were against the council’s proposal, should Councillor Arckless not be working to find a compromise solution in the best interests of Morpeth schoolchildren?
Council leader Grant Davey, announcing the consultation last year, stated that: “We want to see all pupils across Northumberland educated in modern, fit-for-purpose buildings.”
Is this going to happen in Morpeth with the £10million plus capital receipt from the County Hall sale ring-fenced for Morpeth schools?
Perhaps some new sports facilities as the existing gymnasiums looks like they were used in the filming of Kes.
Or will the money travel a few miles along the road to fund the new Ivory Tower?