Council lost the ability to listen
The feeling of helplessness in the face of an overbearing county council which is prepared to trample over local opinion is apparent in Berwick and contrasts so much with the optimistic ideas for the town, which have been published in the Advertiser over the last few weeks.
It is patently clear that essential local services are under pressure with weeds growing in our streets, public buildings being closed, reducing services from Active Northumberland while increasing prices.
Public assets are being sold off and the town is still patently short of car parking spaces, making congestion unbearable at times.
The state of local roads shows the lack of attention to this part of the county.
Certainly Berwick is feeling the full brunt of this county council’s desire to prioritise the Labour heartlands elsewhere.
And it is clear from the county council’s own figures that the need for savings is being driven by the repayments on its vast and growing pile of debt.
Crazy vanity schemes, such as the purchase of a 40-year-old shopping centre in Cramlington for £83million or the new County Hall in Ashington project, which could now reach a sum of £80million, according to the tender documents, are just examples of spending out of control.
Part of the solution must be to bring back some form of local control to stop these constant attacks upon our local services.
So, for example, why does the county council not listen to local opinion over the unsuitability of coach parking on Chapel Street?
Other councils have devolved decision making over all kinds of matters such as planning and roads maintenance on an area basis and they have devolved local budgets for many essential services.
What we have seen in Northumberland has been the complete opposite of this with decisions being made in the most centralised and out of touch manner.
This is a council which is remote and has lost the ability to really listen.
Berwick and north Northumberland should have its say back and we will be striving for a county that actually works for everyone.
Coun Peter Jackson
Leader of Northumberland Conservatives