COUNTY: The urban rural divide
When Alnwick District Council was considering alternatives to the unitary authority in Northumberland, many favoured the two-council solution '“ one for the urban South East and one for the rural areas.
Central government said this was not financially viable. As a result the present authority was launched in May 2008. Since that time there have been many changes.
In the rural areas, public transport has been cut and in many places abolished. As a result fewer people have access to Alnwick. If they succeed, they are greeted with damaged pavements resulting in people, young and old, falling and needing hospital treatment. Alnwick town centre is dying.
The roads are riddled with potholes and in some cases are impassable, as shown with the Rothbury road, which has been closed for almost two-and-a-half years. The country areas have poor broadband provision, while some places lucky enough to get superfast broadband now see their speed falling below their old line rate.
In the urban South East it is a different story.
A total of £125million has either been spent or committed to Ashington, including a new leisure centre and the crazy plan to relocate County Hall.
There are regular bus connections to Newcastle and the South East. A new rail link is being surveyed to run via Newbiggin, Ashington, Bedlington and Newcastle at an estimated £60million to £70million. A new relief road to join the South East urban areas to the A1 is under construction at a cost of over £13million to the taxpayer.
The old Ashington Town Hall has been refurbished, with the taxpayer forking out £3million, a new £1.25million stand has been built for Ashington Football Club, and high-speed broadband has been in the South East for years.
It is estimated that 52 per cent of council revenue is collected from the rural areas.
As you open your demands for payment in the new council tax year remember, without our contributions, the expenditure in the South East would not be viable. Poor Ashington and district would be deprived of our largesse.
Newton on the Moor