Complaint over ‘fake news’ on hall move costs

The current County Hall site in Morpeth.
The current County Hall site in Morpeth.

Two Labour councillors have submitted a standards complaint over the County Hall move to Ashington, accusing the Conservative group of being ‘purveyors of fake news’.

Coun Brian Gallacher (Haydon ward in Ashington) and Coun Gordon Webb (Isabella ward in Blyth) have criticised their political opponents for saying the relocation would cost £80million.

They reference senior council officers, including chief executive Steven Mason, saying the capital cost of the scheme is in the order of £32million.

Tory group leader Coun Peter Jackson said the £80million figure is the total cost when matters such as the purchase of the site, utility connections, roadways and sufficient car parking for the staff that are expected to work in the new building are taken into account.

Coun Webb said: “The Conservative group has been corrected in public by the independent CEO about the use of fake figures, yet its members continue to use fake news to peddle their brand of setting communities against each other.

Coun Gallacher said: “My town and other market towns stand to benefit from the County Hall move and it’s time Coun Jackson and his party were held to account for their blatant attempts to mislead the public.”

Coun Jackson said: “Each resident I’ve talked to about this up and down the county have said that it is a colossal waste of public money.”

A county council spokesman said: “The council has received a formal complaint.

“A decision as to whether it merits any further action will not be taken until after May 4, 2017. We will be making no further comment until after this time.”