COUNCIL: Decisions in best interests

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I am writing in response to your editorial which had the headline ‘Confidence in council looks likely to stay low’, (Morpeth Herald, July 14).

The article begins by stating that local county councillors and an MP were not aware of proposals for a new ‘garden village’ north of Ponteland.

There was a good reason for this – all that has been agreed so far is an initial ‘expression of interest’, which will be put forward to the Government for consideration as a project later this year.

It is quite common that officers will conduct some background work on a project before it is shared with a wider audience, including local ward councillors.

If the Government was to give these proposals the go-ahead, consultation and engagement with a wide range of stakeholders, including the public, will be a key part of moving forward.

Regarding the second suggestion that we ‘ignored’ the views of large numbers of parents during discussions around the Ponteland Schools Partnership, that is wrong.

During the consultation process, we listened very carefully to all of the views expressed.

While many parents who took part in consultation felt there was no need for change, it is worth noting that a large number of parents who have children in Ponteland schools did not take up the invitation to be involved in the consultation.

Also most education professionals, including staff and governors, told us that we should take the opportunity to move to a two-tier system if we were investing in the future.

However, we have no preference either way on two- or three-tier education.

In the end, we were unable to find a solution that everyone was happy with, but I think what we agreed will achieve the best outcome for children.

Ultimately, we do have to take big decisions and, while not always popular, these are taken with the best interests of the future of Northumberland at their heart.

It is important that readers know we do listen and will continue to do so in the future.

Coun Grant Davey

Leader of Northumberland County Council