DEMOCRACY: Members are public servants

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On Tuesday, September 6, in the Council Chamber of County Hall, we witnessed a scandalous betrayal of democracy when Northumberland County Council planning officers and a large majority of the Strategic Planning Committee ignored the binding authority of the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan

As your editorial so justly observed, this was a shameful act (Morpeth Herald, September 8).

The Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan has statutory force and the way with which this was swept aside by the committee’s approval of the Mitford Estates bid is not only breathtaking, but suggests utter contempt for the settled will of the people.

This is more than dismaying – it is a matter of grave moral concern, which cannot be ignored.

It raises fundamental questions about the integrity and accountability of a council that appears to be so determined that it knows better than the electorate that it purports to serve that it is prepared to completely disparage voters’ views.

The letters page of September 8 was largely filled by a lengthy contribution from the Leader of Northumberland County Council Grant Davey.

It was plainly an assault on a fellow councillor, expressed in language which at times was in exceedingly poor taste and scarcely befitting of one elected to public office, who might reasonably be expected to practice the dignity of restraint, especially in print.

The egregiously self-congratulatory tone in which Grant Davey continued over very many paragraphs to catalogue the achievements he claims for his administration speaks volumes, especially in light of the letter printed immediately after his remarkable effusion.

Peter Scaife eloquently set forth the response to his excellent earlier letter on the fate of Morpeth Library from Coun Val Tyler, whose role is to oversee library services.

The outrageous treatment of Morpeth Library hardly accords with the picture of glorious munificence painted by Coun Davey.

Those selected to local government should bear in mind that they are the servants of the public, not our masters. To ignore the will of the people is a dereliction of duty.

I believe that a very grave injustice was perpetrated on September 6 in the refusal to recognise the force of the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan. Those who permitted that to happen can expect to be held accountable.

EM Brewis