New councils weren’t our idea

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THE content of Bob Watson’s letter (News Post Leader, September 8) was staggering in its disregard for the truth.

He seems to have totally forgotten that, as a Labour councillor on Blyth Valley Borough Council (BVBC), he voted for a single unitary council; that it was BVBC, not the county council, that voted for the creation of the three town and parish councils covering the Blyth Valley area; and that BVBC, not the county council, applied to central government for the creation of these new councils.

It was the Labour Party across Northumberland that pushed for a single unitary council, and it was a Labour government which granted their wish.

The myth that somehow people in Seaton Valley are being asked to pay twice for anything is simply that – a myth.

Some may remember the scare-mongering peddled about Valley Care in previous years which proved to be incorrect.

People now enjoy a better service, rather than the closure that was predicted.

The claim that Seaton Valley’s is one of the least expensive councils is also not correct.

A quick look at the facts shows that of the 156 parish and town councils in Northumberland, Seaton Valley stands more or less in the middle – in 82nd place – as far as the level of precept charged per household is concerned, and tenth highest in terms of the amount of money raised.

What should be noted is that a substantial part of the money raised by Seaton Valley Council is spent on its own, internal administration and not on services that directly benefit the residents of Seaton Valley.

What the county council is trying to do is to ensure that, across Northumberland, most town and parish councils deliver similar services, so from next year we are asking all such councils to maintain bus shelters, public seats, war memorials and litter bins. And most of them have been doing that for years.

The county council retains responsibility for emptying the bins.

If there are other services for which the parish councils wish to take responsibility, or assets they want to have transferred to them, then that is for them to choose. Nothing will be imposed.

We want to help local councils to take on assets and services when they feel they want the responsibility and they have the capacity to deliver.

What are these newly created councils for, if not to deliver services to the people they represent?

The town and parish councils in the south east of the county were created by the Labour Party to fill what was perceived by them to be a democratic deficit that opened up when their government got rid of the district and borough councils.

I urge Mr Watson to deliver something tangible in the way of services to the people he represents.

Raise and spend money on the provision of local things in the community, which people in Seaton Valley can benefit from.

He states: “It is unfortunate that ill-informed opinion is being used to raise arguments.”

It is equally unfortunate that deliberate mischief-making is being used to paint a distorted picture.

JEFF REID

Leader

Northumberland County Council