Seeking answers on abandoned site

Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck.
Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck.

Since the Conservative administration at Northumberland County Council ditched plans to build new headquarters in Ashington after winning the 2017 local elections, concerns have been growing about what will happen to the abandoned site in Lintonville.

Little appears to have been done and only tentative suggestions put forward as to alternative uses for the boarded-up site where a new County Hall would have been built.

A petition has been started seeking some answers and firm development proposals for what petitioners are calling the ‘Ashington Hole’.

It has become, petitioners say, an eyesore in the centre of Ashington on one of busiest road entrances into the town.

But it is not just Ashington where it is being perceived potential investment plans seem to have been abandoned because there are also sites in Bedlington and Newbiggin where it appears progress has been halted.

One of the first comments county council leader Peter Jackson made after the elections was that the current building would be refurbished and modernised at a cost of around £7m, rather than moving to Ashington.

That raised some eyebrows at the time and it came as no surprise that by the time the budget had been set for this financial year £17m has been set aside for the work.

To many, it seems the ‘hole’ in Ashington and the site in Bedlington are symptomatic of the wider problems in our communities, which it appears are being ignored in favour of places like Ponteland, which happens to be in Coun Jackson’s ward.

The ‘Ashington Hole’ petitioners are seeking answers by May, which will mark a year since the election.

On numerous occasions I have written to the county council and Coun Jackson regarding concerns about halted investment projects, but have had little response.

It will be interesting to see if the demands of the ‘Ashington Hole’ petitioners meet with any greater success.