Berwick councillors welcome investment
Berwick county councillors have welcomed a proposed multi-million pound investment in leisure and education facilities for the town.
Northumberland County Council’s budget, approved last week, includes plans to spend £20million on a new sports centre and £15million on a new high school.
Coun Gregah Roughead, who represents Berwick West with Ord, welcomed council leader Peter Jackson’s capital commitments to Berwick.
He said: “For years Berwick has long been treated as the last frontier and the forgotten town, so to hear in the leader’s speech the place he named the most today was Berwick, Berwick, Berwick, is good.
“The proposed investment for the Berwick area is very much welcomed and is a positive start to compensate for the decades of neglect the town has received by previous decision makers.
“Now having something written down is one thing but we want and need delivery, so the leader knows that the three Berwick councillors will be nipping at his heels to ensure that actual progress happens.
“In the coming weeks and months, we will hopefully hear specific and more detailed announcements which will help bolster Berwick even further from the emerging Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, and cement the town’s position in the eyes of our partnering councils as the one true gateway between England and Scotland.
Coun Catherine Seymour, Berwick North, added: “There are significant budgetary pressures and inherited debt from the past administration, so it is very much welcomed and I am pleased that council has budgeted for at last the long-awaited funding for Berwick.”
As well as funding for the sports centre and high school, she was pleased to see £250,000 pledged for restoration work on the Old Bridge.
Coun Georgina Hill, Independent member for Berwick East, said the budget contains ‘a lot for Berwick’ but called for more to protect the most vulnerable.
At last Wednesday’s budget meeting, Coun Hill spoke of; “The curate’s egg budget – good in parts.”
She praised the administration’s ‘responsible debt management strategy as opposed to storing up problems’ but said that, while she appreciated that tough decisions had to be made, a line needed to be drawn to protect the most vulnerable residents.
Coun Hill voted against the increase in charges for adult social care and also opposed the eight per cent reduction in the council tax support scheme.
She praised the fact that Berwick was getting a range of investment across a number of areas.
“We are getting £20million for a new leisure centre, £700,000 for the Maltings which hopefully will be a lot more next month (when the first round of the Borderlands initiative funding is likely to be announced) and we are doing very well through the LTP. We are getting a lot but we need and want more.
“Under the previous NCC administration we got sod all – in fact it was worse than sod all with the damage caused to this town through the shenanigans with Arch, etc, and we got sod all under 42 years of the Liberal Democrats.”
Speaking after the meeting, she added: “After decades of neglect and decline, Berwick is no longer the forgotten town.
“There is much more to achieve but we are clearly, finally, going in an upwards direction. It makes a change to hear councillors from elsewhere grumble about what Berwick is getting.”