Resident still waiting for council's apology

Northumberland County Council has still not made the apology to a Berwick resident as ordered by the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) last month.

Friday, 18th March 2016, 08:18 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th March 2016, 09:23 am
Diggers continue the demolition work on the former Kwik Save site

The LGO found the council guilty of maladministration in the way that it handled the planning application for the former Kwik Save site on Walkergate.

It said the council failed to take proper account of the gross over-supply of offices in Berwick – which includes more than 2,000 square feet of offices in the recently-declared Enterprise Zone on Ramparts Business Park.

The LGO noted the council, as owners of Arch, had a conflict of interest, as it is building the offices, is the planning authority and intends to use them for its own staff.

It went on to recommend that an apology be given to Eric Goodyer, who took the complaint to the LGO.

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So serious is the over-provision of employment land in Berwick, points out Cllr Goodyer, that the council’s own internal experts have recommended that 12 hectares – equal to 17 football pitches – be re-zoned for other uses, and no new offices should be built.

Cllr Goodyer, a long-standing Labour Party member, said: “This site was bought for £3million of public money to use for education and skills. This investment recognised the long-standing problems faced by our young people in getting decent access to further education and skills training. The nearest FE college is over 50 miles away.

“It is a disgrace that a Labour-run county council has taken this land to build offices in a town awash with empty offices. It will not create a single job, or do anything to prevent our youngsters having to move away to get a future. Not only have the council stolen our kids’ future to build offices for their own use, they cannot even bring themselves to apologise.”

Cllr Goodyer said he has gifted the apology to the young people of Berwick who had been denied access to education and training opportunities.