COUNCIL: Fears for the finances
Shortly after the May 2017 local election the Tories delivered to homes throughout Northumberland their newspaper.
Within their publication was the title ‘Labour vanity project cancelled‘. This referred to the new administration, along with the Independents and Lib Dems, cancelling the building work, which was in progress, on the new council HQ in Ashington.
When asked why, when the Ashington Site, according to three independent reports, was ‘value for money’, no reason could be given.
My colleagues and myself, who live in Northumberland, viewed this decision as political and a waste of public money so we decided to take a more detailed look.
Throughout the past year we have researched this cancellation, and eventually presented our findings to various Government bodies, to which one is now investigating.
The present cost of cancellation to the main contractor is understood to be £23million, with the partial refurbishment of County Hall standing at around £17million.
The new build in Ashington was £32million, with this amount being off-set by the sale of council-owned land at Morpeth.
We were unable to gain any information on the cost of the Ashington site lying idle, or what is to be built on it.
Within 14 months in office, the present coalition in County Hall has a financial deficit of £65million.
It has now emerged that a developer has issued legal proceedings against three members of the council, plus the council itself, for matters of the upmost seriousness regarding a proposed development in Dissington.
With compensation having to be paid for the cancellation of the new build in Ashington and impending legal proceedings, reimbursement costs could soar.
The question now arises of who is going to pay for the legal representation for those named in the proceedings? Will it be the individual or the hard-pressed council taxpayer?
Is it not time for the Secretary of State to intervene and appoint inspectors to run the authority before Northumberland County Council becomes bankrupt?