Recent newspaper articles sum up the current situation in Morpeth, with the leadership of Northumberland County Council apparently refusing to acknowledge the views of residents and businesses.
In the Morpeth Herald, (December 15), there was a piece of fabulous propaganda with the Council Leader describing the current County Hall building in Morpeth as outdated and crumbling. It is 35 years old.
What next? Demolition of the 17th century Morpeth Clock Tower? It was still telling the time at the weekend.
The value of the land sale including County Hall and the old fire station is apparently well above expectations, with residents informed that the council is constantly seeking creative ways to raise money.
The problem with this particular creative method is that it has no merit in planning terms and has no support from Morpeth residents and businesses.
The Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan, which was only endorsed in May, and by 93 per cent of residents, does not allow for the proposed uses on this site, yet the leadership seems to think this is nothing more than a minor inconvenience.
Views are so strong that more than £10,000 was raised in little over a week through donations to fight these proposals.
The messages to the leadership are crystal clear.
No thank you to bland, edge-of-town retail sheds that could do significant harm to the town centre, with a car park of more than 300 spaces.
No thank you to a McDonalds’ drive-thru directly opposite a new first school.
No thank you to a characterless, cavernous pub/restaurant backing onto a residential area.
No thank you to 200 houses, given that there are already more than 3,000 new houses in the pipeline, which will increase the size of the town by more than a third.
No thank you to the housing being located on well-used, protected open space.
I wonder if these messages will elicit more of a response than the typical non-response from the council spokesman that the proposals are “now entering the planning process”.
If the leadership were really listening and respecting views then the proposals would not have reached the planning process.