Portas project chairman John Robertson stands down

Aerial views of Berwick-Upon-Tweed from the Town Hall spire 'Marygate

Aerial views of Berwick-Upon-Tweed from the Town Hall spire 'Marygate

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Berwick’s troubled Portas project has been plunged into fresh turmoil following the shock resignation of its 

Councillor John Robertson, who took the lead role when a new management group was formed earlier this year, announced his decision to quit at Berwick Town Council on Monday night.

An appeal by Mayor Isabel Hunter for councillors to join the group was then met with silence.

It leaves the group in limbo as it looks to spend the remainder of the £100,000 prize aimed at regenerating the town centre.

Andrew Marshall, a member of the original Portas town team and author of the winning bid, said: “Anyone can understand when personal reasons force someone to step down. What is less understandable is that no one else in the council is prepared to step up.

“It is astonishing that after all their efforts to get control of Portas, those town councillors involved now seem happy to jump ship. Now the Portas management group itself has no management.”

Councillor Georgina Hill said the public deserved an explanation from the ex-chairman for his decision but he declined. He also refused a similar approach from the Berwick Advertiser.

Earlier, Councillor Robertson issued an unreserved apology for his behaviour at the council’s annual meeting in April. It followed a code of conduct complaint made by local resident Karin Graham.

Tempers became heated and there were angry exchanges between councillors and members of the public after serious allegations were made against the town council within the question and answer session. Councillor Robertson admitted that he did raise his voice as the meeting went on but he claims that this was, in part, a direct response to the allegations.

Councillor Robertson offered to apologise publicly, a move accepted by the monitoring officer at Northumberland County Council who proposed that no further action be taken.

At Monday night’s meeting he said: “At the end of a heated annual town meeting I approached the mayor and apologised and expressed my desire to do the same to the silent majority who had come to see our presentations. To them I unreservedly apologise.”

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