Are you confused over councils controversy?

Confused? The reorganisation of local councils here in Northumberland is made even more confusing by the "warring combatants" as they make claim and counter claim.

Confused? The reorganisation of local councils here in Northumberland is made even more confusing by the "warring combatants" as they make claim and counter claim.

Will you, as the electorate, be best served by one or two councils? Don't all of you now have two councils? Yes, a district and a county, but they add up to seven: Alnwick, Berwick, Blyth Valley, Castle Morpeth, Tynedale, Wansbeck and Northumberland. Confused?

The choice being presented is between one unitary council or two unitary councils (one for the urban south-east and another for the rural areas) delivering all the services provided by the present seven councils, and each claiming to be more efficient and better value for your money. Confused? There is a third, unmentionable option: to remain with district and county councils working more in partnership, sharing a number of "backroom functions" that all councils require while having a local council to ensure that your locality in this diverse county is best served. Confused?

The two unitary bid talks of the remoteness of the present county based in Morpeth and that it has been run for a good number of years by councillors largely from the urban south-east. Where will the rural unitary be based? Morpeth, most likely as it will cover an area from Blanchland to Berwick, and be remote from both.

It will have the same number of councillors (37) who represent these areas at the present county council. They also propose to let you elect the leader/mayor of this rural authority, who will then be in charge of running the council. Confused?

Where will the "urban unitary" be based? Well, again Morpeth seems a good idea.

It would provide a neutral base for both Blyth Valley and Wansbeck. Confused?

Both bids talk about working with community forums; they even talk of "belonging communities". Do you recognise yours in the bids? Who will represent you on these?

The single unitary bid says that it will set up three area committees and devolve budget and service decision making. What's wrong with doing this in partnership with the districts? Confused?

There is talk of a county bias to the south-east. Will Wansbeck not fight Blyth Valley and the west fight the north, depending upon who seems to gain at any time? Confused? No matter what the Government decides at the end of July, it will take considerable time to restore the confidence in each other required to get you the services you deserve. One can only hope that common sense rather than politics decides the day. You have only two more days in which to communicate your choice to Government. Do so now.

COUN ALEX KERR, Conservative, Humshaugh Ward, Northumberland County Council, County Hall, Morpeth, Northumberland

Not geared up to run agricultural backwater

A LETTER from the leader of the county council of our great Northumberland variable ambience, extolled the virtues of being politically managed by a single unitary authority (Voice of the North, June 8).

May I respectfully submit that the overwhelming dictatorial vote of the current left wing influence would not be geared up to run our agricultural backwater in our great county, with its diverse requirements, as well as struggling with a proven fatuity, the Euro enigma?

BILL RICHARDSON, Rothbury, Northumberland

County not trusted to carry out its promises

ALL the discussions over the reorganisation of the councils in Northumberland will be over this time next week. Then we must wait for a decision from the Whitehall mandarins at the end of July.

The arguments over which of the two options available should be chosen has, in my opinion, been very one-sided. Both options have been tested by the Government and both were passed through for final analysis. The argument over which is cheaper has proven to be sterile as there is not much to choose between the two options, and anyone who has borne the brunt of county tax rises would realise tax cuts were never going to happen in a million years, even in a refurbished county council.

The choice that has been made by the people of Northumberland from the referendum through polls to survey after survey, has been based on trust. The plea from the two leaders at County Hall to back the continuation of a county council - and be under no misapprehension, that is what they want - has now centred around their being allowed a bigger voice on the national stage. What arrant nonsense. We see an authority in decline whose protestations and "big ideas" have been dismissed by an increasingly sceptical community who simply do not trust it to carry out its promises.

That lack of trust has spread to the county council's dealings with the districts who are successful, not because of the county council but often in spite of it. Of course, the single council option has little or no support, not even from its proponents' own council, which has to be unique.

The handful who produced the one-council document could easily have allowed the decision to be made by the people who matter, instead of which we remain in the uncertain hands of Whitehall for the second time in as many years.

They at County Hall certainly still have time to come out of this with dignity and withdraw their bid now, but we will not hold our breath waiting for them.

COUN BOB WATSON, Labour, Seaton Delaval Ward, Blyth Valley District Council and Press Officer, Blyth Valley Labour Party, c/o Seaton Delaval, Northumberland

Country badly needs change of government

IT does my old heart good to read the letter from Mr John Morris ("What is so wrong with the status quo?", Voice of the North, June 16) about democracy (and the A1 north of Morpeth, although it is doubtful any MPs know where that is).

It seems to me that most of the present Government wear blinkers. Even with the imminent changes at No 10 and No 11, the country badly needs a change of government.

A government which is prepared to listen, a government making sure that the people's voices are heard and acted upon, in short a government which understands the word democracy and isn't afraid to make sure that course is followed.

BASIL COXON, Berwick, Northumberland

Origin of the word `doolally' in India

I REFER to your columnist Judith Holder's article headlined "It's the way we tell 'em" (The Journal, June 16).

The word "doolally" is not a regional word. Its origins go back to the late 19th Century when the British Army established a military base at Deolali, north of Bombay (now Mumbai) in India.

Very briefly, the base had an asylum for troops who were considered to be "unstable" after spending long tours of duty in the subcontinent. Any strange behaviour of troops returning to Blighty was referred to as "gone doolally".

I DAVIES, Alnwick, Northumberland

Recognition with MBE is richly deserved

CONGRATULATIONS to Ylana First on being awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List (The Journal, June 16).

Ylana has two passions in life: the arts and her home village of Tynemouth. She has combined her love for the two for many years to brighten people's lives and bring positive recognition to the area, especially with her work in support of Tynemouth's Victorian rail way station. She played a large part in saving it from demolition 20 years ago.

Ylana sets high standards for herself and others, and is an example of selfless involvement with the community that many of us can learn from.

The recognition is richly deserved.

COUN MURIEL GREEN,@ Labour, Weetslade Ward, North Tyneside Council, Wallsend Town Hall, Wallsend


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