‘Opportunities’ if HQ move aborted

Coun Peter Jackson, leader of Northumberland Conservatives, outside County Hall in Morpeth.
Coun Peter Jackson, leader of Northumberland Conservatives, outside County Hall in Morpeth.

The new building in the heart of Ashington will provide new opportunities now that the County Hall move is off, says the Conservative group leader.

Following the historic result in this month’s county-council elections, Coun Peter Jackson said: “I can confidently tell you that the move of County Hall is stopped. We have a mandate from the electorate to stay in Morpeth and we will do that.”

The new council will meet for the first time next Wednesday when Coun Jackson is expected to be elected leader of the council, given the Tories secured 33 seats – one short of an overall majority.

One of his party’s major campaign pledges was to halt the move of the council’s HQ to Ashington and ‘the County Hall issue was obviously central’ to the Conservatives’ electoral success, according to Coun Jackson.

In terms of the Ashington building, which is already under construction, that situation will be ‘immediately reviewed with senior officers’.

But Coun Jackson said: “The council has secured a strategic site in the middle of Ashington town and our vision for the future of Ashington would be to attract business, create new employment and possibly find a way of support Northumberland College so we can further improve further education for the whole of Northumberland.

“So that site brings with it exciting possibilities that the previous council had a closed mind to.”

Other manifesto promises included the abolition of Arch and the formation of five local area councils.

If approved at a meeting of the local authority next week, these councils will make decisions on planning applications, roads spending and transport priorities.

The five areas are Ashington and Blyth, North Northumberland, Castle Morpeth, Tynedale and Cramlington and Bedlington.