It seems that the Labour leadership of the County Council just can’t help digging.
Firstly, they have been forced to concede that their initial press release referencing building 2,000 houses on the County Hall site and making capital receipts of £180million was entirely inaccurate. Now they are talking about 193 houses and capital receipts of a mere £9million.
Secondly, the ‘justification’ was to devolve services more equally across the county and decentralise the administration. Now they have admitted that they will retain a Central Administration Hub with over 1,000 staff.
Thirdly, they claimed that the sale would make significant savings to the County Council. Now their best estimates are that the move ‘possibly’ could make savings of a paltry £550,000 per year, which equates to somewhere near 0.001 per cent of the council’s whole annual budget.
Finally they have revealed, what many have long suspected, they want to use the move as a way the channel significant amounts of taxpayers money into Ashington to artificially ‘re-generate’ the economy of Ashington with public money.
No other options, or locations, have been considered at all, this is a classic top down dictate from the leadership without proper genuine consultation for blatantly cynical and political reasons.
The Labour leadership now have an opportunity to take a deep breath, think properly about these proposed changes and carry out a full and wide ranging review to find a way forward, not the proposed rubber stamping exercise in which the move to Ashington is a hurried and foregone conclusion.
Coun David Bawn
County Councillor for Morpeth North