Political row over motion about HQ project for council

County Hall in Morpeth.
County Hall in Morpeth.

The Northumberland Conservative group has accused the Labour administration of stifling debate on the project to close County Hall in Morpeth and build a new headquarters in Ashington.

A motion proposed by Tory leader Peter Jackson was seeking to have the matter discussed at yesterday’s full county council meeting.

He is disappointed that the motion was ‘blocked’ from appearing on the agenda.

However, a county council spokesman said there were ‘factual queries’ that needed a response and because Coun Jackson did not respond in time, the motion could not be discussed at the meeting.

The motion calls for the cabinet to be given all up-to-date information for the entire project because ‘additional information which may cause the council to review its decision has become available’.

Coun Jackson said: “It is shocking that the administration has refused to consider a perfectly valid motion and is not engaging in an open and democratic debate about this huge public project.

“It is clear that several aspects have significantly changed since the spring. Amongst other matters, the scope of the tender has been broadened out to include a far larger potential project.”

The Conservative group believes the overall cost will be much higher than the original £32million figure.

The council spokesman added: “Despite our several attempts to make contact with him, Coun Jackson did not reply and so his motion could not be placed on yesterday’s agenda for debate.

“If he does at some stage get around to clarifying the points, then his motion may be considered at a later meeting of the council.”