Single vision offers best value for money

Northumberland County Council should be congratulated for their vision of a new unitary authority for all Northumberland.

Northumberland County Council should be congratulated for their vision of a new unitary authority for all Northumberland. They would unite local government services on a scale providing best value for our money.

A unitary Northumberland would enable really effective working with other bodies and give us a stronger voice.

It is essential for good governance that we have a healthy diversity of political views within one body. Furthermore, proposals for community forums and empowering our councillors are sound.

I am dismayed by the alternative proposal to divide urban and rural areas.

As the former MP for a rural constituency, I can report that people who live there are concerned about education, the welfare of children and older people. Nor should south-east Northumberland be crudely characterised as "urban" with people deemed to have no interest in environment or visitors.

Two councils could not provide the same quality of local services as affordably as one. Reports of a proposed division of responsibilities demonstrate uncertainty that they could even meet statutory duties.

We can all be proud of the unique history, identity and diverse quality of Northumberland. We will do better for our future with one new unitary council.

HILTON DAWSON, Warkworth, Northumberland

Time for a showdown - it's two against one

THE battle lines are drawn as Northumberland County Council prepares for showdown today. Councillor Bill "The Bullet" Brooks, leader of the council wants one super council.

Every other MP, person, dog, cat and budgie wants two, including that intriguing combination of Lib-Cons who hope to repel the single council proposal with their hidden battery: two councils, one rural and one urban.

Such battles are all at the taxpayers' expense and one wonders if the council should set up its own defence budget.

Coun Brooks and Labour are masters of disaster whose last two priorities - the two-tier system and post-16 transport - went down like a lift to the basement of County Hall.

If Labour members vote against a single council, they will be sent to the gallows by chief whip Paul "The Shotgun" Kelly. They must wish they had a whip in such circumstances and Shotgun must fear the next person who wields such power if a revolt comes.

Lib-Cons, Alex "The Killer" Kerr and Lesley "The Rocket" Rickerby, are eager to strike the first blow and hoping they don't fall out before the chair declares tonight's meeting open. Such coalitions will need all the swagger and style that comes with being a Conservative in the 21st Century, to counter the onslaught of business-weary Labourites using defensive tactics to fend off a revolt.

Who knows what the vote will be, but if the Lib-Cons fly the flag of victory we, the public, will get two councils, sending Bullet Brooks and Labour, white flag waving, to defeat and down on yet another journey on the overused County Hall lift.

M ERSKINE, Bellingham, Northumberland

We're talking empires here, not councils

THE debate surrounding the future of Northumberland's local government smacks of tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee politics.

I suspect some of our parish pump politicos are more concerned with maintaining their little empires than the welfare of the county's citizens.

It is a bit rich for Berwick Council's leader to criticise the county for financial mismanagement when his own council is currently facing a budget crisis of its own and is contemplating a whole raft of economy measures, including the closure of the town's museum.

COLIN WAKELING, Berrington Lough, Northumberland

There's no division in the title `Northumbrian'

I HAVE been leading the team putting together the Northumberland District Council submission for two new "all purpose" councils to be created in Northumberland.

The report in The Journal of January 6 was interesting.

Under a heading of "Northumberland opponents", you provided quotations from each of the district council political leaders.

Whilst the leaders clearly opposed a single council for Northumberland, it is important to stress that central to our proposal is the need to protect and maintain the County of Northumberland.

Our proposal, One Northumberland - Two Councils, will see the retention of the County of Northumberland, but for the efficient and effective delivery of local services the county will have two brand new councils. People from the county will continue to proudly call themselves Northumbrians.

This is exactly what happens in Yorkshire. And it doesn't seem to have dampened the pride and heritage of that historic county.

GEOFF PAUL, Chief Executive, Blyth Valley Borough Council

Reorganisation will not save us any money

I READ your report of Northumberland County Council's bid for unitary status with some incredulity ("County aims to be singled out", The Journal, January 5).

Does anyone seriously believe that a reorganisation of local government in Northumberland will save money? No reorganisation in the history of local government has ever saved money.

OK, so you sack a few managers with huge redundancy pay-outs, but then you find that their jobs still have to be done so you hire others on larger salaries.

Then you find you have to pay your existing staff more for the extra responsibility. Once you get to that stage, you either put up the council tax or sack some front line staff and reduce the service. Please tell me I'm wrong (although I am unlikely to believe you).

It was always thus and I commend the following quotation to the leaders of Northumberland County Council:

"We trained hard, but it seemed every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganised.

I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganising, and what a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralisation."

The quotation is attributed to Gaius Petronus, a Roman general, who is said to have made it in AD 66.

MICHAEL JEANS, Tranwell, Morpeth, Northumberland

It's quite clear that this man is in the right

NORTHUMBERLAND County council leader Bill Brooks is a politician who is never wrong because every other politician is never right. He is using the Labour Party whip to get his own way on a Government White Paper. Is this the action of a leader or a dictator?

We, the people, in case Coun Brooks has forgotten, are the electorate, not a flock of sheep and we insist our voices are heard in the council chamber and elsewhere.

Threats to our representatives on the county council are a threat to us, the people of Northumberland.

Indeed, Coun Brooks, you might find yourself under threat for not being suitable for office and voted out.

But then again, are shallow people who are not the voice of the electorate manipulating matters because, for whatever reason, they want to see the end of local democracy so power is in the hands of the few and local people are walked over with little or no comeback?

All our districts and boroughs disagree with the county council's ruling group and Coun Brooks on how local government should be delivered in Northumberland. Even our elected Members of Parliament, who by the way are our lawmakers, disagree with them.

But then almighty Coun Brooks, he who is never wrong, says he is right and that's that. As my old grandpappy used to say, a man who knows everything, knows nothing.

GD RYAN, Blyth, Northumberland


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