DCSIMG

Election could lead to projects being cancelled

The B6344 near Rothbury which is shut because of the landslip at Cragend.

The B6344 near Rothbury which is shut because of the landslip at Cragend.

Projects and repairs may suffer after residents called for an election in Rothbury, parish councillors heard at their monthly meeting last week.

It was announced that, after the resignation of former chairman Alan Fendley, 17 members of the community had signed a form calling for an election for his seat to be held.

But the meeting was told it will cost the council between £400 and £4,000 to stage the poll.

County and parish Coun Steven Bridgett said: “I have no objection to elections, but what I find interesting is that we are being criticised by members of the public for raising the precept, yet some are prepared to call for an election and incur that kind of expense on the parish and take valuable funds away from projects that we need to do, like the bus shelter or the Armstrong Cross.

“It is a bitter pill to swallow.”

Chairman Mark Gilson said: “There is no doubt about it that there will be an election. Seventeen names and addresses have been submitted to the electoral people at County Hall.

“If there is only one candidate, that will cost the parish £400. If there is more than one candidate and we can hold an election at the same time as the European election it will cost the parish around £3,000.

“But if we have to have an election on another day, for whatever reason, it will be around £4,000.”

Coun Bridgett added that elections were only held last year as it is and co-option to the council would have been sufficient.

Coun Brian Hesler added: “We have to accept that the cost falls on the parish council, democracy is what we live by. If someone is really keen on standing, it would have been much more sensible to be co-opted.”

The closing date for anyone wanting to stand for election to Rothbury Parish Council can put their name forward at County Hall in Morpeth by Thursday, April 24. If an election is to be held, a date will be announced when the candidates’ names are made public.

CONCERNS OVER BROADBAND

iNorthumberland’s superfast broadband project roll-out will be completed by June but customers will see intermittent problems while cabinets are being updated.

Coun Bridgett said there were concerns with the Rothbury project and has referred it to the internal and external auditors for review.

He said: “At the end of the day, I want to ensure that people are getting value for money and I am not entirely convinced that they are. It is taxpayers’ money and it should be done properly. It will take several months for a conclusion to be made.”

LANDSLIP IS MAKING SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS

Work is progressing on the Rothbury landslip despite concerns.

Comparisons had been made to the repairs made on the railway line in Devon.

But Coun Bridgett said: “It is totally different. They knew the engineering at Dawlish and they knew what caused it and how to fix it.

“The problem with the landslip is that there is no specific event that has caused this and they need to determine what is going on underneath.

“I know it is a huge inconvienience but the council is not trying to do this slowly. It just wants a lasting solution.”

It is expected that in June work will start on de-watering the site which will stabilise the ground and allow construction access.

By September, it is hoped that work will start on the re-construction, with a final completion date of August 2015, the road potentially being opened earlier than expected.

A public meeting is being held in the Jubilee Hall on Thursday, June 24, at 7pm.

 

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