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FAO: Coun P Jackson, Coun G Castle, Mrs A-M Trevelyan.

Thank-you for your letter dated December 6, as you stated that it was an open letter to the leader of Northumberland County Council, I assume that you sent a copy to the local press. In the interests of balance and of being open and transparent, I have therefore copied this reply to the local media also.

I am pleased that you are supporting the Lib Dem administration that runs Northumberland County Council, in implementing concessionary parking charges in the larger market towns across Northumberland.

I also trust that you will be pleased that we have not forgotten about the Hexham traders and shoppers, as you seem to have done in your letter, by making sure they also benefit from these parking concessions over Christmas.

I, too, was contacted by the local chambers of trade, local businesses and local people, before the final decision was made to introduce concessionary parking in the Christmas week; I can assure you that the Liberal Democrats understand the challenging circumstances faced by all local businesses (not just those on our High Streets) and we are doing everything in our power to help them. We are also making very strong representations to Government, to help local businesses with issues that are outside of the County Council’s control.

I have noted, in one of your recent leaflets, that you pledged to make parking free across the whole of Northumberland. It is interesting that the Conservatives refused to vote for this earlier this year when you had the chance. I am sure that Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell would be very impressed with this ‘New Labour’ style spin; however I am not sure the people of Northumberland will be equally impressed.

As you know, I am always open to new ideas on how we could do things better and I am always willing to listen to well thought out, sensible suggestions, whoever they come from.

Once again, thank-you for your letter and I am pleased that you are supporting the Liberal Democrat administration in rolling-out concessionary parking across Northumberland for the Christmas week.

Coun Jeff Reid,

Leader, Northumberland County Council