Administration hits back in HQ move costs row

Coun Grant Davey
Coun Grant Davey

The political group in charge at Northumberland County Council has insisted that building a new headquarters in Ashington is the best option.

Conservative group leader, Coun Peter Jackson, is among those opposed to the move from Morpeth and questioned the numbers at a recent cabinet meeting, saying some of the estimated capital receipts and revenue savings were ‘extremely optimistic’.

Now, the Labour group has called on Coun Jackson to provide specific evidence that the costs in the report are incorrect and it is also highlighting that the move is part of its strategy to reduce the number of workers at its headquarters to enable more of its jobs to be spread out among Northumberland’s market towns.

Council leader Grant Davey said: “The Tory Government has slashed the council’s budget by over a third, yet they want to stop us making savings.

“As well as the questions about opposing the savings we will make, why are local Tories against more jobs for Hexham, Alnwick and Berwick?

“We know they’ve got form attacking the south east, but why are they now trying to undermine economic opportunities for the towns in the north and west?”

A full council debate and vote on the issue that was set to take place yesterday was taken off the table. Councillors will now decide whether or not to give the move the green light in February as part of the budget deliberations.

This was criticised by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat groups and a call-in request was made on the grounds that when the issue was discussed by a scrutiny committee, it was under the impression that the full council debate was going ahead.

The matter has now been referred to a December 15 meeting of the committee.