Still more to be addressed
Three years ago, at the height of the troubles within Berwick Town Council, I suggested that it should be disbanded because it seemed no longer fit for purpose.
Northumberland County Council was made aware of various concerns by Coun Georgina Hill, but decided to take no action.
Instead Coun Hill was found guilty of breaching the code of conduct, which failed to resolve the council’s problems. I consider that this action was a complete waste of time and taxpayers’ money.
Three years on and the county council commissioned a consultant’s report to tell the town councillors to respect each other, (Berwick Advertiser, January 19). Words fail me.
I trust that the council can justify the fees to come out of the public purse on more than a conclusion that there is an issue with Berwick town councillors not respecting each other.
Everyone in Berwick, and those of us formerly of the town, who have been watching aghast as the fiasco has unfolded, would be able to tell you that.
However, the arguments and acrimony were only an unfortunate by-product of an underlying problem.
A more pertinent objective for Northumberland County Council to have given Mr Hoey and his team would have been to examine not only the extent of the town council’s governance failings, but also why there seemed to be such a strong resistance to Coun Hill’s campaign for transparency.
Coun Hill’s transparency crusade has been a hard-won, bitterly-fought triumph. The facts as they have emerged, and the findings of the Warren Audit, which was damning about the council’s financial management, have completely vindicated her position.
Rather than sign meaningless bits of paper pledging to stop squabbling like infants, the council would be better served acknowledging and addressing the injustices that this brave councillor has faced.
Berwick has a special place in my heart, but it seems almost 50 years behind with progress. We must ask ourselves the question why?
With the right elected representatives and a good, working-together council, like a team, Berwick could have a great future.