SCHOOL: Work has been done on plans

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It would seem that Coun Jeff Watson is confused, not only in his comments at Amble Town Council, but also in his letter about the council’s commitment to James Calvert Spence College, (Northumberland Gazette, June 22).

His statement that Northumberland County Council hadn’t committed any money to the refurbishment and new build at James Calvert Spence College isn’t correct.

He may be unaware of the work and time it takes to get a final proposal to the table and all the procedures it must go through. He may like to look at the Capital Works Cabinet Advisory Group minutes that recommended the investment following a presentation by council officers back in April.

He may also remember that the press release he is hung up on said that: “Planning is under way now for the £9million investment by Northumberland County Council at James Calvert Spence College in Amble.”

This was back in February, not election related or shoved in before purdah, which started weeks later.

If he wants to attack me and former Coun Arckless for being proud and sharing information with the public about this, that is fine.

If he reads the minutes of the Cabinet Advisory Group he would see that the latest information relating to this project identified the following: “The middle school had a maintenance backlog of £1.46million required to current buildings, whilst the high school in Acklington Road required £3.8million of repairs and improvements.

“Additional information had been requested by the Officer Capital Strategy Group, which identified James Calvert Spence College as the next highest priority secondary school which required rebuilding/refurbishment.”

The county council, school and others have put in a lot of hard work with this project.

The council’s democratic system involved recommendations by its Cabinet Capital Advisory Committee to allocate money from the already approved council budget, which had provision for this scheme.

The council has already carried out a lot of extra capital repair works to the school’s roof, and other areas too.

Those are the facts so whatever happens next will be a direct result of decisions by him and the Conservative Party. All the hard work has been done to support James Calvert Spence College. Whether the Conservative Party now chooses to stop the investment and waste the money and time used to date is for it to decide.

It’s interesting to note that the schemes in Ponteland continued without any hiccup. Hopefully, they aren’t being favoured over Amble.

Let’s just deal in the facts in future and not mess around with what could be a great thing for Amble and the surrounding catchment area should the Conservatives choose to finish Labour’s work. I fear that if this doesn’t continue, it will be the start of what’s to come.

I am hoping that the Labour Party can force another u-turn from Coun Watson’s national Conservative colleagues on the £16million school cuts planned for Northumberland too.

Coun Scott J Dickinson,

Member for Druridge Bay, Northumberland County Council