Council leader faces criticism over level of investment in Bedlington

The leader of Northumberland County Council has faced difficult questions from Bedlington residents over a perceived lack of investment in the town in recent years.
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Cllr Glen Sanderson attended a meeting of the Cramlington, Bedlington and Seaton Valley Local Area Council where members of the public turned up in large numbers.

The Conservative council leader pledged to meet with residents at a later date to discuss their concerns.

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A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Local Democracy Reporting Service in October found that, since 2017, a total of £13.01 million has been invested by the council in Bedlington in terms of capital spend.


Of the ten largest towns in the county, this was the third lowest behind Prudhoe and Cramlington.

Speaking at the meeting, resident John Hall said: “We had everything in Bedlington, but we have got nothing now. I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve never been so disgusted.

“We had two swimming pools at one time, we haven’t even got a paddling pool now.

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Another resident, Marie Howeth, added: “I’m angry about the investment in the town. What is being done to keep people in the town, and bring tourists into Bedlington?

“At the minute, a lot of people take their money out to different towns. I want to know what the council is doing to keep people here.”

Cllr Sanderson said he would organise a meeting with a small number of residents to hear the town’s concerns.

He said: “What I would like to do is ask for a get-together with councillors for Bedlington and residents who have strong views. I can come to Bedlington and meet them.

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“We will get the answers. There’s an awful lot to say – politics doesn’t come in to it.”

Cllr Sanderson initially suggested an informal meeting, but residents indicated they wanted a more formal set up with minutes taken. Speaking after the meeting, he defended his administration’s record in the town.

He said: “Spending in towns is about need, not about divvying up the money regardless. If a town gets a new school or leisure centre – something that isn’t happening much at councils across the country these days – then spending in that town does increase.

“Look at all the work we are doing in Bedlington, such as the new Northumberland Line station, the £3 million Town Deal, significant improvements to the country parks and a multi-million pound new cycling and walking project as examples.

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“Between 2011/12 and 2017 (under the previous Labour administration) £11.68 million was spent in Bedlington. Since 2017 it is £13 million – but if you add in all the work underway it will exceed £20 million, so we have almost doubled spending in the town."

He added: “I went last night to listen to residents, as I’m happy to meet residents anywhere in the county – and often do. I will be arranging a special follow-up meeting to listen to specific concerns.”