Government backs out of County Hall relocation row

The Government has indicated it will not intervene in the proposed relocation of County Hall.

As previously reported by the Herald, Lord Vinson tabled a question in the House of Lords asking if the Government had made representations, or was intending to make them, to Northumberland County Council about its plans to move its headquarters from Morpeth to Ashington.

He highlighted the particular impact on residents in remote areas of the county.

Now Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government Lord Ahmad has responded on behalf of the Government, saying such decisions are for councils.

However, he said members would have to “answer through the ballot box” for any decision.

He said: “We have made no such representations as such decisions are for councils themselves.

“If Northumberland County Council has decided to relocate its headquarters, it will have to answer through the ballot box for the decision and the impacts it will have on the people of Northumberland.

“Councils should consider the potential savings to taxpayers from better property management, whilst also carefully considering the public’s access to frontline services.”

The council’s Labour Administration says the move will cost around £20million, but Conservatives say it will be more than double that.

Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Berwick Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “Taxpayers understand that borrowed money, however low the interest rate, has to be paid back so if the money is not borrowed for a project with a future economic return then it is not a good project.”