Fury over Braid cash

ANGER is mounting after it emerged that money raised from the sale of land which is part of a controversial supermarket development in Amble would not be specifically spent in the community.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request, submitted by a town resident, revealed that the proceeds from the sale of the Braid by Northumberland County Council to Northumberland Estates in 2010 for just over £750,000, would not necessarily be pumped back into the town.

Documents obtained say that receipts from the sale of the council’s assets are not ring-fenced for a particular location or service but are used to help fund its medium-term plan, subject to public consultation and full-council approval.

The application between the Estates and Tesco – for a supermarket and car park on land north of Queen Street and new access road across part of the Braid – has already been given outline planning approval and final details could be agreed tonight by members of the county council’s Area Planning Committee North.

Objectors have called for a public inquiry or judicial review into the application and there have been concerns about the Braid sale, but the cash revelation has added fuel to the fire.

Amble resident Roger Armsden said: “Many of us already feel cheated by the loss of part of the Braid. Now the whole town knows that it’s been cheated out of the proceeds of the sale of the land, which could have gone to the benefit of Amble, not central funds.”

Conservative spokeswoman Anne-Marie Trevelyan said it was ‘deeply worrying’ that the money had ‘disappeared’ into the administration’s ‘black hole’ given that ‘we are seeing the wider transfer of money from north Northumberland into the south east of the county’.

But chairman of Amble Town Council Leslie Bilboe said: “I would love it to come back into Amble but we live in a real world. The amount of debt they have at County Hall now is just unbelievable. Under normal circumstances, I doubt it would come back anyway. It happens all over the county, I suppose. When they sell land or facilities, it is not necessarily going to come back to the area.”

A county council spokeswoman said: “Receipts from the sale of the council’s assets are not ring-fenced to a particular location or service, but are used to help fund the council’s medium-term plan.

“Capital projects identified within the plan support the council’s strategic spending priorities which are subject to public consultation and full council approval.

“A large council such as Northumberland must direct resources, both revenue and capital, towards its agreed priorities and capital receipts are no exception.”