COUNTY HALL: Proposal is ill-conceived

I visited Morpeth Corn Exchange in the Town Hall to examine the proposed development for the County Hall site and the proposal to accommodate four of the existing Morpeth Schools in one large complex.

What a farce — 3,500 pupils educated in an area which is little greater than the existing KEVI site.

I was in town at 3.30pm when the KEVI pupils descended upon the Back Riggs area. Traffic was at a standstill as wave after wave of pupils crossed over the entrance to the bus station, a continuous stream of pupils ignoring the traffic. This mayhem was caused by only one school, the high school with 1,500 pupils.

When I consider that there will be 3,000 to 3,500 pupils attending the County Hall site, the traffic problem will be horrendous and totally unmanageable. Sorry, I forgot to include the use of the proposed leisure complex, which is also included in the development, which will be extra to the school numbers.

The proposed access to the school complex is through Merley Croft. To construct a road around the Merley Gate estate, terminating at the existing roundabout at County Hall, plus access to the first school from the existing mini-roundabout on the main road to Newcastle, is absolutely impossible to even think about.

I do not mind County Hall moving to the Labour heartland of Ashington, but the existing site could be used for other more suitable facilities, such as housing or a hotel, which Morpeth badly needs, which would reduce the density of the traffic around this area.

Moving four schools onto this site is the most hair-brained scheme I have ever heard of, and it will cause total mayhem between the hours of 8am to 9.30am and 3pm to 4.30pm, plus of course the leisure complex, which will also require car parking. What about after-school activities and leisure centre members?

Are there no employees of our council who will stand up to the majority Labour councillors, of which Grant Davey is the Leader? Surely many of our council officials must realise that you cannot get a quart of liquid into a pint pot.

I could go on and list my many objections to this farcical development, but I feel it is such a terrible proposal that I would be wasting my time. The proposal is ill-conceived and should be scrapped immediately.

I have lived in Morpeth for 52 years, but I am the son of a coal miner who worked in local collieries for 51 years and I was brought up in a colliery village where everyone was a staunch socialist. I am now living at Merley Gate, adjacent to the existing County Hall roundabout.

Perhaps I do have an axe to grind, but whether I live next to County Hall or five miles away, the proposals are still a disgrace and unworkable. I hope someone will see some sense and put this right before it goes too far.

Jim Dunn