Amble public bodies at each others' throats

BITTER personal rivalries have broken out within the two public bodies charged with improving Amble.

The dispute has become so bad that both Amble Town Council and Amble Development Trust are now engaged in publicly sniping at each other.

Each admits there are problems and that little is being done to heal the rift.

The spat, which has gone on for several months, has driven a wedge between the two bodies supposed to be working for the town.

Amble's mayor, Coun Audrey Jones, said: "We should be working together and I don't feel that we are at the moment.

"I think it's just a case that they're not including us in things."

A recent clash saw the Trust openly criticise town council members for voting against its plan at district level to build new offices, dubbed Fourways II.

Several town members, including Coun Jones, joined by Coun Ian Hinson as a public objector, spoke against the Trust plan.

This prompted the Trust's executive director, David Milburn, to criticise the councillors' actions in the Northumberland Gazette, claiming personal agendas were dictating actions.

He called on local people to ask councillors why they were voting against the plan, saying it was unfortunate the town council had not supported it.

This led to the town council writing to the Trust to complain and seek an apology.

Town council representatives sit on the Trust's management committee under various guises but it is a fraught working relationship.

Councillors Jones, Carl Oliver, Robert Arckless and, until recently John Hedley, all sit in on the Trust's meetings.

Heated words were also swapped at two recent town council meetings about the reporting back to the council of items held in private at Trust management meetings.

The problem came as Coun Hedley, then a town council delegate at the Trust, refused a council request to report back on private matters.

Facing strong town council criticism, Coun Hedley told them they would have to sack him from the post as hewould not change his mind.

At last week's council meeting he was unanimously voted from the Trust post.

The Trust insists that the problems are not of its making. Mr Milburn said: "We don't have any difficulty with any of our other partners.

"It is not an issue of the Trust's making.

"It would be better for all concerned if the relationship was more harmonious but it takes two to get to a satisfactory outcome."

Coun Jones added: "It's sad that we can't get on. We should for Amble, as there is money here and there that the council can get and other money the Trust can get."

The Trust is an independent body with several partners, including the town council, Warkworth Harbour Commissioners, One NorthEast and the district and county councils.

Mr Milburn said: "Amble is gaining enormously from the Trust and its partners. But it's somewhat embarrassing when a situation like this arises with one of our partners."

Coun John Taylor, leader of Alnwick District Council, called for the partners to settle their differences saying: "I have no doubt that both the town council and development trust have the best interests of Amble at heart.

"However, it is important that the current tensions are addressed and I will be looking to see what the district council should do to assist.

"At the end of the day we want to see all the organisations working together for the people of Amble."