Alan Castle: Time to get the balance right, please

CASH-strapped Northumberland County Council has found some £40million for key projects in Northumberland.

While there are many deserving causes, Alnwick desperately deserves a new high school. The one we have is not fit-for-purpose and is gently crumbling around the pupils and excellent staff.

But what is classed as a key project in Northumberland and deserves £20million being spent on it, while other good causes miss out? Why, a new leisure centre for Ashington.

The report recommends it should include a refurbished multi-purpose centre which could incorporate leisure facilities, a customer service centre, registration service and a library.

While I do not begrudge the good folk of Ashington such facilities, I would have thought that when times are hard, decent buildings for the education of our children would have a higher priority – especially when we are told that everyone from Whitehall to village hall is cash-strapped.

Is it a case that our southern cousins enjoy the benefit of having more elected councillors in that part of the world than we do in the north, who therefore decide who gets what?

That was always a major fear when we lost our district and borough councils, because it had gone on for years previously at county level.

We would like to think that each is given an equal opportunity.

To have modern school facilities is a right of every child and in this day and age we should not have a school site that is split in two where pupils have to cross two roads to get to classes.

It is time such wrongs were put right and we look to the education authority at County Hall to rectify this as soon as possible.

There has been talk for a long time and we know that the Duke of Northumberland has earmarked a site for a new school. It is time plans were drawn up by those in power to get it off the ground and built.

Education of the young is a benefit to all in the long-run.

The authority is also allocating nearly £7million from the Department of Education to improve school maintenance. At the same time, they will no longer carry out major capital works at those bidding for academic status.

The latter I agree with. If such schools are seeking to go it alone outside the mainstream of education, then they should have to stand on their own two feet.

One project I am delighted to see get the go-ahead, however, is a new flood defence system for Morpeth.

The commitment of funding between £7million and £12million will attract £10million from the Environment Agency.

There can be nothing worse than having your property inundated time after time by muddy water and other filth.

I MUST admit I had never come across this particular word before until I spotted it this week on a website for journalists.

It read: “Officers brought the situation under control and the photographer was de-arrested and subsequently released.”

He had been arrested in the first place for some unknown reason for taking pictures on a public highway.

When I followed it up, however, I found the term had been used on a number of occasions.

According to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, to ‘de-arrest’ means that ‘a person who has been arrested under any act of law at a place other than a police station, shall be released before reaching a police station if a constable is satisfied that there are no grounds for keeping him under arrest’.

Unlike being released with no further action, being de-arrested means that the record of the initial arrest is removed.

My curiosity was satisfied.