We need to be transparent
I write in response to letters from Peter Watts and Alex Gibson, (Berwick Advertiser, April 28).
These letters contain versions of events and accounts of the problems within Berwick Town Council.
Peter Watts, an award winning Liberal Democrat activist, cries “it is all Coun Hill’s fault”, and states that this view is backed up by independent inquiries.
The findings of the evidently damning Warren report vindicated what I have been saying and exposing for years about the council’s financial management and poor governance.
Contrary to what Alex Gibson states, my campaign has not been about “allegations of fraud”, although I continue to dig in to, and be open-minded about, the goings on.
It is, of course, easier for Peter Watts to ‘hear no evil, see no evil’ in relation to the Dunn reports of early 2014, which found amongst other things significant problems with the council’s policies, procedures and how it was being run, because these reports have still not been published.
The decision to conceal these reports, which vindicated my position, was made and supported by councillors who subsequently resigned, which according to Peter Watts and Alex Gibson’s version, is a bad thing and all my fault too.
Alex Gibson claims to have no political ties. This may be the case, but he has chosen to campaign specifically with the Liberal Democrats, declining to join other parties’ campaigns on the same issues.
He also repeats Peter Watts calculation of the financial cost and pointing of the finger of blame.
I have recently left the Conservative Party and found my natural home as an Independent as justice, including social justice, is at the heart of my political philosophy.
Through your columns, let me be clear what the transparency campaign is about, in case the message be blurred due the passage of time and spin.
It is about ensuring that Berwick Town Council is run properly, democratically, and that decisions are made openly and after consideration of all the relevant facts.
It is about the responsible use of public money, it is about adhering to the Nolan principles of public life and respecting the fact that we are an accountable body, elected to serve our local community, which should welcome, not resist, scrutiny.
The beacon of hope following the Warren report has been snuffed out.
We had the budget where the council tax precept was hiked up by 15 per cent after claims of “deficits”. Recently, we had one councillor appointing themselves to a one-councillor tender panel for the £15,000 CCTV project.
The next issue will be over the £80,0000-plus Flagstaff Park project as there has been no proper tender process, risk assessment or due diligence conducted. It may exceed budget and further problems could arise because they have not been anticipated, nor any recognisable project management procedure implemented.
As reported, we also allowed Northumberland County Council to allocate the remaining £55,000-plus of the Portas money to a disability pathway on the Quayside, which it was, almost certainly, obliged to pay for anyway.
Coun Georgina Hill
St Boisil Ward