A Northumberland MP signalled his support for the much-maligned Arch and Active Northumberland with a motion to Parliament, calling for a review into money spent on changes since last year’s council elections.
The Early Day Motion (EDM), by Ronnie Campbell, the Labour representative for Blyth Valley, says: ‘That this House commends the previous council administration in Northumberland for its profit for social purpose development company Arch and its formation of a charity called Active Northumberland to ensure that leisure and cultural provision in Northumberland was not damaged by significant cuts to the council’s central government grant’.
It adds that the House should note the changes to both organisations since last May and ‘calls on the Government to seek an independent review of the actions so far which have cost the council taxpayer over £36million in connection with the changes at Arch and Active Northumberland’.
EDMs are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons. However, very few are actually debated, according to the official Parliament UK website, but they allow MPs to draw attention to an event or cause.
Mr Campbell’s EDM has been supported by five other MPs.
Arch hit the headlines recently after it was revealed that the council-owned company spent around £73,000 on seven real-estate conferences, in London and Cannes, ‘with no evidence of an evaluation of the benefits’. A significant proportion of this went on hospitality, including high-cost meals and alcohol up to £200 per head, first-class travel and accommodation.
Earlier this year, Active Northumberland, the charitable trust which runs leisure services for the council, was the subject of its own damning report, although Labour has questioned the impartiality of this review given that the man commissioned to carry it out subsequently joined the board.
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service