COUNTY HALL: Decision has been made

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Last week comments were made regarding our decision to halt the waste of many millions of taxpayers’ money on the Labour project of building a new County Hall in Ashington, an expensive plan, which would result in moving employment from one town to another without creating a single new job in the process, (Northumberland Gazette, October 26).

It was not only the Conservatives pointing out the folly of this, but the chief executive of the time Steven Mason stated three times in public, including during the scrutiny committee meeting examining it, that the decision to move County Hall to Ashington was a political decision.

It was not because there was no economic alternative, but because the Labour administration wanted to place the Northumberland County Council HQ nearer to where itfelt their Labour heartland was – Ashington, not Morpeth.

A full council debate never took place on this proposal and it was left to others to create an economic case for the administration.

The case was never even remotely convincing and it was obvious that refurbishing County Hall where it is would be far cheaper than moving it, with a complete new rebuild, to Ashington.

The public recognised this too, which helped bring down, at long last, the Labour administration.

Ashington will benefit from other uses of the site, but the election was fought on a serious manifesto disagreement about whether or not County Hall should move to Ashington or stay where it is.

We now have the decision and County Hall will stay where it is. Labour has lost this argument.

The county will save money by keeping a County Hall which is just over 30 years old, and Ashington will benefit from a real regeneration project, creating a new and vibrant focus for the community.

Peter Jackson,

Leader of Northumberland County Council