Priorities, please

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NEWS that the south east of the county is to get an £18million investment in leisure facilities over the next three years will be a bitter pill for many to swallow here in our own community.

For the best part of a decade, campaigners have relentlessly pursued a replacement for the deteriorating Duchess’s Community High School in Alnwick.

While the noises have been encouraging from a successive line of politicians at both County Hall and Westminster, nothing has yet been achieved in terms of bricks, mortar or even a concrete investment for the future. A similar financial commitment here in north Northumberland would equate to more than half of the projected £30million build costs for a brand new high school.

Even if the money was ring-fenced while the final details were decided, it would be an incentive to the Government to act sooner rather than later.

We all understand how strapped for cash the county council is and the impact cuts will have on services in coming years. The so-called austerity measures will bite deep and belts are only going to get tighter, both locally and nationally.

Yet the public is continually confronted with examples of the disparity between the rural and urban parts of the county – parking charges to name just one.

Spending £18million on a leisure centre, rather than replacing a vital school which is literally falling apart, will only widen the division.

It’s time for the council to take the lead.