Clash of views over council-estate pledge

Coun Steven Bridgett
Coun Steven Bridgett

An action group has clashed with the area’s councillor over his ‘contradictory stance on the expansion of Rothbury’.

CRAG (Caring for Rothbury Action Group) supporters are concerned about Coun Steven Bridgett’s campaign pledge ‘to work to get the first new council housing estate built in Rothbury in nearly 40 years’.

CRAG described this as a ‘complete about-turn’ for the ward member, as he had opposed two recent housing schemes, and questioned ‘pursuing his vision without proper engagement with the community’.

In a statement, the group added: “CRAG supports the development of truly affordable housing which caters for the needs of local people, on an appropriate scale and based on hard evidence gathered through widespread public consultation, but opposes large-scale developments where no such need has been identified.”

But Coun Bridgett, who was re-elected as representative for the Rothbury area on May 4, said that his position ‘is and always has been that Rothbury needs more council/affordable housing’, which is reflected in the housing waiting list.

He said: “Rothbury needs affordable council housing, whether it is to rent, to buy or joint ownership.

“Northumberland County Council has been able to build council housing since 2010 and has done so, right across the county, but not in the Coquet Valley, simply because we do not have the land to deliver it.

“If we can, however, work with developers on some of the existing housing that has been approved already and negotiate for land in lieu of housing, this option has the potential to allow us to deliver the affordable housing that is required for our young families, our elderly residents and those working in local industry like farming and agriculture for the next 20 to 30 years, but at a conservative pace.”

He added that this was ‘a key feature of my recent election campaign and local residents have overwhelmingly supported me on it’.