Major backing for defence scheme was a ‘no brainer’

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Allocating millions of pounds to Morpeth’s flood alleviation scheme was a ‘no brainer’, according to a member of the former executive at Northumberland County Council.

The project was in doubt in early 2011 as it did not score highly enough for Government funding for flood defences when the budget was reduced.

But the Government introduced a new partnership funding arrangement and this allowed the county authority to agree to provide a significant amount of the money – its contribution turned out to be £12million as the total cost went up to about £27million – later that year.

Coun Andrew Tebbutt, town and county councillor for Morpeth Kirkhill, was part of the Liberal Democrat administration at the time as executive member for corporate resources.

He said: “Within hours of finding out about the new partnership arrangement, I spoke with Steve Mason (then director of finance) and we both said it’s a no brainer that we need to find the money.

“Thankfully, the opportunity presented itself quickly as we were able to include the scheme as part of the £42million borrowing commitment we made for major projects, which also included our share of the Morpeth Northern Bypass and new leisure centre in Ashington.

“We took on the risk, but we couldn’t afford to let people go through what they did in 2008 again.

“I’m incredibly impressed with how the various agencies have worked together on the project and I would like to particularly thank Coun Ian Swithenbank (the current cabinet member for local services at the county council) for his co-operation, which went beyond politics.

“This process has shown that councillors from all sides can work together for the good of the community.”