Nothing to hide or gain

I am writing with reference to an article (Berwick Advertiser, April 21) to which I had no input.

Thursday, 28th April 2016, 8:00 am

It was reported that I had claimed £12.60 in expenses for a fact finding mission to Morpeth. This caused Coun Hill to post on social media about this, which has caused much distress to some members of my family.

I am not on social media. The damage has been done and the true facts have still not been published.

Last summer some councillors and other associates were looking into ways of finding funds for a skate park in Berwick, but there were a few hiccups along the way and it was put aside to be looked at at a later date. I have spoken to many children in the area and they have all said they would like a skate park, and this was mentioned on numerous tags on the performing rope in the 900 events.

In February I spoke with a fellow councillor to see if we could revive the situation of the skate park and he thought this would be a great idea. We looked around at possible sites and checked online for information, looking at North Berwick, Newbiggin by the Sea, Ashington, Hexham and Morpeth.

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We approached the town clerk to see if through her delegated authority she could sanction our visit to Morpeth and she had no objections as it was good for the town.

Coun McLean and myself travelled to Morpeth after I had made arrangements to meet the town’s deputy clerk. She was very helpful and took us to the skate park where we took some photographs. We then went back to the Town Hall to have a chat and get some information on the Morpeth skate park.

On returning to Berwick I handed the documentation to the Berwick Town Council office, filled in my expenses and handed it to our finance officer. I never thought any more of it until I was informed that Coun Hill had queried the payment at the March council meeting, which I did not attend.

I went to see the Wooler skate park, but no expenses were put forward for this.

It is all about gathering facts and information. I am not looking for glory, I do not have any political ties like some, all I am trying to do is help Berwick get a much wanted skate park. If obstacles keep getting in the way the kids of today will be wanting more park benches, not skate parks and such like.

Once all the facts and information were gathered it would have gone to council to debate.

The claim for this fact finding mission was £58.23.

The claim for £12.60 was put in for the arrangement of collection and delivery of the trees to Spa Well Spittal, Dock Road Tweedmouth and Coronation Park for the Army Cadets to plant for the Queen’s birthday. This was all done with the town clerk’s knowledge.

The two payments were included in the Berwick Town Council April expenditure sheet and again Coun Hill queried the payments. At this point I stood up and gave a version of the fact finding mission, and I pointed out that I was sick to death with the accusations.

I hope that this is open and transparent enough as I have nothing to hide or gain and I do not go doing things whenever I feel like it.

Yes, I get frustrated at times when protocol gets in the way, but I stick to the rules and the clerk is always kept in the loop. Myself and some other councillors would do anything to help the town as that was in the declaration when I became a councillor.

When it comes to expenses, Coun Hill has cost the Berwick taxpayer approximately £120,000 through allegations of fraud, the previous clerk’s settlement fee, solicitors’ fees and by-election fees because of councillors’ resignations.

Alex Gibson

Berwick Town Council