COUNCIL: Give us time to put it all right
In reply to Marion Mead listing a long series of poor decisions taken in the past by Northumberland County Council (Berwick Advertiser, October 11), we would like to make it very clear that the current Conservative administration is listening '“ and acting.
We understand the frustration of residents in Bridge Street and nearby with the impact of the Premier Inn development and assure you that the council will oversee the construction to ensure it complies with all conditions.
The current council cannot be blamed for planning decisions taken by its predecessor, often with approval from the then county councillors for Berwick, such as the Pets at Home building, the movement of the Tourist Information Centre, or whether the Premier Inn should have been allowed without parking.
The closure of West Street during the renovation of the Cowe’s Building and the new offices in Walkergate were undertaken by Arch, the development company that has now been disbanded and re-formed, while Northumbria Police investigates its previous activities.
What we have done since May 2017 is act on those unheard frustrations, working with local councillors with a genuine voice at County Hall.
The coach park has been replaced with short-term parking in Chapel Street and more parking opened up in Hatter’s Lane, both to bring more people into town and to use the services in the Walkergate Library.
There is a stronger conservation voice for Berwick within the council’s own planning process.
There is a local area council for North Northumberland, including the three Berwick county councillors, that now makes planning decisions previously taken by a committee in Morpeth.
On top of that, Northumberland County Council will invest over £20million in a redeveloped Swan leisure centre: this may not be a heritage issue, but it will add very greatly to the wellbeing of residents.
At the same time we are actively pursuing the chance of having a new theatre and conference centre here through the UK Government’s Borderlands initiative, which will add facilities, and jobs.
Finally, this county council has brought the new hospital to the top of the agenda. The county councillors for Berwick have been urgent in pressing the case for a separate location and more services, whereas a previous councillor for Berwick West supported the decision to place the new A&E at Cramlington.
So please give us time to make these investments as years of decisions cannot be put right overnight.
Coun Peter Jackson
Leader, Northumberland County Council