Berwick '˜at the heart' of county council plan

Assurances have been given that Berwick is at the heart of Northumberland County Council's economic plans for the future.

Sunday, 25th September 2016, 7:56 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th October 2016, 1:45 pm
Berwick small business conference

The message was delivered by Cllr Allan Hepple, the council’s cabinet member for economic development, who was keynote speaker at the Berwick Small Business Conference held in the town hall on Friday.

He said: “I think Berwick is very important, not just for the county of Northumberland but also in terms of its connections with Scotland.

“Berwick is at the heart of the county council’s plans. It’s a priority of our economic strategy.

“Arch, our development company, is working in Berwick and our market towns initiative is devolving services and staff back to market towns including Berwick.

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“The news that the Ramparts Business Park is part of an enterprise zone is really good news and we’ve submitted expressions of interest to the Government for the Berwick Barracks heritage hub.”

However, he acknowledged that Berwick faced economic challenges such as the communication, finance and insurance sectors.

More also needed to be done in terms of an integrated tourism offer and to improve transport links.

“I am disappointed that the A1 dualling scheme now seems to have become an A1 improvement plan,” he said. “When you get past Alnwick it turns into something of a country lane.”

He felt there were reasons to be positive though.

“Berwick is a beautiful town and it’s an economic hub between two major cities in Newcastle and Edinburgh. We’ve got to make sure we don’t forget that its hinterland is on both sides of the border.

“We have developed a Berwick plan for growth and we’re very keen that we get feedback on how we can move that forward.”

He also expressed disappointment at the decision of the North East Combined Authority not to proceed with regional devolution plans, although Northumberland County Council had voted in favour.