COUNTY HALL: Concerns not answered
I was somewhat bemused by the reply to my letter (Northumberland Gazette, October 26) from the Leader of Northumberland County Council.
Not one point that was raised in my previous correspondence was answered.
Instead of addressing these concerns, he sought to use his letter as a political platform to lambast the Labour Party.
His attitude showed a distinct weakness towards his argument.
This then poses the question.
Did he believe I was a member? This cannot be so far from the truth.
I belong to a non-political group of residents living in Northumberland who are deeply concerned about the waste of public money that the present administration is going to burden onto the public through the cancellation of the new County Hall.
My colleagues and myself do not belong to the Labour Party and have never been members.
If this contemptuous attitude is widespread within the Tory Party, this may go a long way to explaining why we are being ignored.
On two occasions, we have written to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government stating our concerns and presenting evidence to back up our case along with a request to call in this decision for scrutiny.
In both cases, we have never received an acknowledgement or reply to our request.
Within the previous administration’s ‘business plan’ was the sale of land around County Hall, which would have gone a long way to offset the cost of the new build at Ashington.
It now appears that there is no such provision and the council will bear the full cost.
There is also evidence that the outside walls of County Hall are suffering from structural defects caused by ground movement.
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To stabilise this problem will push the cost up even further. Along with its refurbishment and its cost, there will also be the Ashington site to contend with.
The leader of the council argues that the Ashington site will benefit from other uses.
Does this mean that the design of the original building planned, will need to be altered because of its change of use?
If so, will it require architects, surveyors and other professional reports, then have to go through planning procedures and put out to tender?
When the Government auditors came to County Hall to scrutinise the findings of the two reports, they invited the Conservatives to table questions. This was duly done and answers were given.
According to the report they did not challenge the auditors on any answers.
In concluding the report, the Government auditors agreed with the two independent companies’ findings.
Moving to Ashington would be the most favoured site as its economic effect would be massive to the town and surrounding areas. It would also be value for money.
The Tories pride themselves in pursuing value for money and in this case there has to be question marks.
Coun Jackson was quick to point out that the Labour Party’s intension to move to Ashington was not economical but political.
So it begs the question. Really, Coun Jackson?