Play areas and allotments are set for town transfer

TOWN councillors are set to take control of more playgrounds and allotments.

Morpeth Town Council has been in talks with Isos Housing about the transfer of play areas at Church Walk and Stobhillgate, as well as allotments in Wellwood Gardens, Duncan Gardens, St Mary’s Field and Abbots Way.

The housing association took control of the facilities as part of a housing stock transfer agreed by the former Castle Morpeth Borough Council.

Now it is proposing to transfer the play areas to the council through a 60-year lease at nominal rent, and provide a £20,000 dowry for their upkeep.

The move has been welcomed by the town’s Property and Asset Management Committee.

Chairman Andrew Tebbutt said: “I would have preferred us to have the freehold, but I don’t think there is any arguing with this.

“I’m quite clear that £20,000 does not cover the cost of replacing the whole of Church Walk play area, but these play areas are included in our budgets and we have been paying for them so this is a financial bonus.”

The association has proposed transferring the allotments with a similar lease arrangement, but Coun Tebbutt says only freehold will do.

“What has emerged is that Castle Morpeth had no legal power to transfer these pieces of land as allotments because the only statutory authorities for allotments are parish and town councils. It should have transferred them to this council,” he said.

“I think Isos needs to give them to us freehold. They would then have statutory status and could be preserved as allotments.”

Discussions are ongoing.