MORPETH needs a strong voice to ensure a fair deal through four years of upheaval, the county’s Green candidate has said.
Nic Best is again standing for Morpeth Town Council after 16 years’ service, along with fellow Green candidate St George’s United Reformed Church Minister Ron Forster.
Coun Best is also running for the Morpeth North seat on Northumberland County Council, and with a new supermarket set to open, flood works under way, the construction of the Morpeth Northern Bypass to start and the expected closure of Telford Bridge for repairs, he says the area needs a strong representative.
“We have got a lot of changes coming up in the next four years so we need someone to represent the interests of Morpeth. I think I am well placed to do that,” he said.
“Any member for Morpeth needs to be able to speak up for the people of Morpeth through all of these things and make sure that Morpeth gets a fair deal.”
Coun Best said that as the town is facing pressure from developers and there is a need for a long-term solution to congestion, work on the Core Strategy and Neighbourhood Plan will be crucial. And after contributing to plans for Castle Morpeth, the town council and the Campaign to Protect Rural England, he says he has the necessary experience.
“The plan is going to have the most impact of anything on the town. It will cover the environment, developer pressure, transport, car parking, the character of the town, the trees, the heritage — it is all going to be defined by this,” he said.
Coun Best wants to see support for shops and businesses, energy efficient, affordable housing, park and ride schemes and the development of markets, including finding a site for a Morpeth indoor market, as well as street planting to replace old and dying horse chestnuts.
He would like a simpler social services system for customers, careful management of benefit changes, a countywide travel card for buses, taxis and trains, a Public Transport Forum and more action in developing rail passenger services, while he said the county council should commit seriously to local procurement to retain jobs and money in Northumberland.
And he said that all political parties must work together.
“I think for the last six years the county council has been stagnant,” he said.
“It has been under tremendous pressure from central government to cut budgets and it should have had an all-party alliance. The minority administration did the best it could, but there was a lack of trust and a lack of sense of working together.
“In Castle Morpeth I helped form an all-party coalition, which was very successful. People look back on the borough council with fond nostalgia now so it must have been good.
“Given the state of the council everybody has to work with each other.”