There is a malaise at County Hall

THE article and letter in the News Post Leader (April 7) somewhat miss the point over funding to ICCQ (Improving Croft and Cowpen Quay).

Some seven years ago officers working through a group of residents in the area supported by councillors submitted a successful bid to the government for funding to support a seven-year project which has gone a long way in improving that part of Blyth.

As cabinet member for regeneration I was well aware of the funding, its purpose and also its duration.

Last year the government indicated the funding was to stop.

We learned a few weeks ago that minds had been changed, thanks to pressure from MPs and a letter was received by the county council informing them of the decision to forward the last tranche of money at £180,000 to the ICCQ project.

The county council at this point, without referring it to debate at council, decided the money was not ‘ringfenced’ so they could send it, as they have done, to Berwick and Alnwick, thus making several people redundant in our area.

There is a malaise at County Hall where politicians merely rubber-stamp decisions made by officers.

Let’s remind ourselves that this (ICCQ) was an extremely successful organisation. I was present at national events when the process and skills adopted by the employees and volunteers was feted by other councils and was part of the reason that Blyth Valley Council received Beacon Status for working with the communities in Blyth Valley.

At the last county council area committee meeting, several people, mostly volunteers and residents, pleaded for the return of the money only to find that even Lib Dem cabinet members did not know what had happened.

COUN BOB WATSON

Holywell and Seaton Delaval