Concern over info black-out

MAJOR concerns have been raised by councillors that their calls for information are being repeatedly ignored.

The issue has been highlighted by members of Morpeth Town Council after struggling to obtain responses from county council officials.

Members of the town’s Finance and General Purposes Committee heard last week that the problem has been ongoing for around 12 months as Northumberland County Council repeatedly fails to answer queries, provide requested information or respond to complaints.

In one case the town council has written to the authority five times on the same issue and has still not received a formal reply.

Even a letter to Northumberland County Council Chief Executive Steve Stewart has failed to make an impact.

Morpeth town councillor David Parker, who chairs the Finance and General Purposes Committee, said: “Members are probably aware by now that the county council has got a bad record in responding to our letters and requests for information over the last 12 months.

“In the case of one issue we have written five times and had no response.

“In April we sent a letter to the Chief Executive, consolidating all the particular questions raised right across the town council’s business, not just those issues raised at this committee. We have had no response to that letter either.

“We have had some verbal responses to a couple of issues, but nothing in writing.

“I have now raised it with the Chairman of the North Area Committee, who is taking this matter to the Area Chairmen’s meeting.

“At the committee meeting one of the highways officers was present and she was able to respond to at least one of the questions raised, but there has been no letter back.”

Coun Parker said he hoped the issue would soon be resolved as it could threaten positive working relations between the authorities.

“It is very unfortunate really because it makes working together with the county council quite difficult when we can’t get information we have asked for in a reasonable amount of time,” he said.

Northumberland County Council Corporate Director of Local Services Barry Rowland has promised to look into the complaint.

He said: “We have a good working relationship with Morpeth Town Council. The town council and I will be discussing its issues in the next few days.”