Resident criticises councillor after ‘spin-doctor’ claim

Brought to you by the Morpeth Herald.
Brought to you by the Morpeth Herald.

A dispute has developed between a Morpeth county councillor and a local political group following a Freedom of Information (FoI) request.

It centres on Stobhill resident Rachael Hogg and her complaints about the initial works by Barratt David Wilson Homes on its project to build 396 homes in the area.

She was called a ‘Tory spin-doctor’ in an email to planning officers at County Hall by Ian Lindley, ward member for Morpeth Stobhill, but she says she is not a member of the Conservatives or any other party.

The concerns she raised include claims that workers on behalf of Barratt starting before the agreed start time of 7.30am on some mornings and using the temporary access from the A192 for longer than the firm said they would had caused disturbance to nearby residents.

The independent councillor, who was formerly with the Liberal Democrats, said in another email to officers that on this issue, ‘the Lib Dems and Tories are keen to maximise political capital for themselves to the detriment of the public good and perception of Northumberland County Council’.

He told the Herald that he made the claim about Miss Hogg as ‘she features prominently on the Morpeth & Wansbeck Conservatives website and in the group’s leaflets’.

In response, she said: “I am very disappointed by the attitude taken by Coun Lindley, who I voted for at the last local election, to the entirely legitimate concerns raised by me and my neighbours.

“Unlike him, I have never been a member of a political party and to basically accuse me, behind my back, of solely being interested in political point-scoring is cheap and unworthy of him.”

Morpeth & Wansbeck Conservatives submitted the FoI request to find out more about how the county council dealt with the Barratt works issues and chairman Richard Wearmouth said it was wrong of Coun Lindley to dismiss a resident’s concerns because of a ‘mistaken assumption regarding their politics’.

Coun Lindley said: “The issues raised were dealt with in the normal planning way, although the A192 access point was not straightforward because of having to relocate a BT chamber, bus stop and lamppost on the A196, and I don’t think they had a major impact on the lives of residents in the area as we only had a couple of people complaining.”

He added: “It will be interesting to see what Stobhill residents make of the way the Morpeth & Wansbeck Conservatives group has presented the findings of its FoI request.”