Well done to the people of Morpeth, who turned out in their hundreds to march to County Hall on February 24 to make their feelings known about the retail and housing proposals for the County Hall site.
Whilst people were angry, the march was good natured and respectful, and there was a feeling of immense solidarity, with repeated choruses of “What do we want? Stick to the plan”.
Jacky Beesley, Chairman of the Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade, went with me, as Chairman of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, into County Hall reception.
One set of doors was locked, a health and safety hazard in itself. Our way was barred at the other door by a County Hall attendant. However, when he saw that we had three county councillors with us, he stood back, as he could not refuse us entry.
Jacky presented the two receptionists with a framed copy of the Morpeth town crest and motto, which means “amongst trees and streams we live”, and said how proud we are of our town.
I told them that I was really sorry they had been put in such a difficult position and presented them with a copy of the Neighbourhood Plan, saying that it had been made by the county council in May 2016 and is now in legal force.
Then we left, and it had all taken place peacefully and in good humour.
However, everyone present was fully aware that senior county councillors and senior staff had refused to meet us, giving the excuse that is was half-term and nobody was available, leaving it to the receptionists to manage alone.
In my view, and the view of many, the actions of the leadership were cowardly, arrogant and totally undemocratic. Perhaps they thought we would vent our anger, but we are reasonable people in Morpeth and can express our views forcefully without resorting to rudeness and violence.
Talking to one another should not present such a threat, unless, of course, you have something to be ashamed of.