Changes to the board at Advance Northumberland

There have been a number of changes on the board of Advance Northumberland, the company wholly owned by the county council.

By Ben O'Connell
Saturday, 16th May 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Sunday, 17th May 2020, 11:32 am
Northumberland County Council
Northumberland County Council

New directors to replace others who have stood down in the last few months, reflecting the new governance arrangements introduced by the local authority last year at the regeneration company which replaced Arch.

Among those to resign are the Conservative-run council’s leader, Coun Peter Jackson, and deputy leader, Wayne Daley – both of who also serve on the North of Tyne Combined Authority’s cabinet – and the leader of the Northumberland Labour group, Susan Dungworth.

This has meant the addition to the board of Couns Ian Swinthenbank (Labour), Malcolm Robinson (Bedlington Independent) and Guy Renner-Thompson (Conservative), the ward member for Bamburgh, as well as Martin Knowles as an independent director with an NHS background.

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In due course, up to four further directors will join the company in line with the structure established by the council.

Speaking about the changes, the Advance chairman, Coun Richard Wearmouth, said: “I’m pleased to welcome our new directors to the board at this critical time for Northumberland as we look to deal with the economic shock of coronavirus.

“Their contribution to getting to grips with the challenges we face has been really appreciated.

“Advance Northumberland have been working hard with help from the council to make sure that business support grants were paid out swiftly to local companies, and to ensure we understand the nature of the challenges facing businesses both during and after the lockdown.

“The council and Advance are in the process of working up detailed recovery plans for our local economy and will be doing everything we can to make sure that the county bounces back as quickly as practical.”

In 2019, a range of new controls were drawn up for Advance in a bid to avoid the issues seen under its controversial predecessor, Arch.

The concerns around governance and spending at Arch, which was scrapped, have been well publicised in the time since the Conservative administration took over at County Hall in May 2017.

The transition to Advance took place formally in November 2018, with the council’s leadership saying it would be a ‘a fresh start and a new direction’.

The new operating agreement between the county council and Advance was approved by the authority’s cabinet last July.