MORPETH: County Hall

Give time for a full review

It is reassuring to discover that the administration at County Hall has finally bowed to public pressure, and pressure of opposition councillors, to have an external audit of the business case for the proposed move of County Hall to Ashington.

It would have instilled more confidence if such a sensible and pragmatic move could have been agreed months ago to allow time for a full and wide-ranging report.

My understanding is that this external audit is to be commissioned and completed within a five-week period prior to the council’s budget meeting in February, which gives rise to some concerns about how a true in-depth review can be concluded in such a time-frame.

I have always failed to see the administration’s urgency to plough on with this plan. There is no reason, other than the election approaching in 2017, for such a major decision to be rushed through in this way.

The administration has always said that it has a sound business case and this proposed move is not politically motivated.

It is, therefore, time for it to put its money where its mouth is and agree to delay any decision until full time has been given for a full and wide-ranging report on all of the options for the council headquarters in future, not just the “preferred option” of moving to Ashington.

David Bawn

County councillor