Heated clash between councillors over funding to improve roads in Blyth and Ashington

Opposition councillors on the Ashington and Blyth Local Area Committee have clashed over funding to improve roads in south east Northumberland.
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Some councillors are unhappy that their area is in line to receive less funding than elsewhere in the county under Local Transport Plan (LTP) draft proposals.

Ashington and Blyth is set to receive £420,000 in the coming year while North Northumberland will see £1.19m, Tynedale £1.08m, and Castle Morpeth £775,000. Cramlington, Bedlington and Seaton Valley will receive £320,000.

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While the south east of the county contains the majority of Northumberland’s population, other committee areas cover larger geographical areas. However, Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Jeff Reid, who represents Plessey ward, was unhappy with the discrepancy.

Cllr Daniel Carr and Cllr Caroline Ball clashed at the committee meeting. (Photo: submitted)Cllr Daniel Carr and Cllr Caroline Ball clashed at the committee meeting. (Photo: submitted)
Cllr Daniel Carr and Cllr Caroline Ball clashed at the committee meeting. (Photo: submitted)

He said: “All the LTP ever does is show me what has been spent elsewhere. If you measure the roads out, there must be more miles of roads in Blyth and Ashington than in other places.”

Labour’s Cllr Lynne Grimshaw added: “When we take over next year, at least we will be able to get what we deserve because the fields and farm paths will be first class.”

Conservative councillor Daniel Carr defended the plans drawn up under his party’s administration, pointing out several projects in his ward were included. He added: “Get out and report it.

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“Some councillors just want to come and have a chat at meetings or do emails. You cannot sit back and expect officers to do it.”

Labour’s Cllr Caroline Ball was unhappy with this, arguing none of the schemes she had raised were included and blamed the issue on austerity and a lack of funding.

Cllr Carr hit back: “Do your job properly then.” Vice chair Brian Gallacher then stepped in.

The Labour councillor said Cllr Carr’s words were “not on”, adding: “Everybody here tries their hardest.”

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The council’s highways infrastructure manager, Robin McCartney, explained how money was allocated in the plan.

He said: “The programme is put together on a needs basis. We have people out looking at the roads, systems measuring what is going on. We are testing the strength of the roads.”

The report presented to members states: “The LTP programme has been developed following a comprehensive review of the needs for the maintenance of the highway asset, identified road safety issues, and potential improvement of the highway and transport network.”

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