Conservatives reveal "scandal" which could cost millions

Millions of pounds of Northumberland taxpayers' money could be unnecessarily wasted on a Labour vanity project, a hidden report has shown.

And Northumberland Conservatives say it is a "scandal" the public are being deceived and misled about Labour's plans for a new £80m County Hall building in Ashington, which is not even needed. 

A previously unseen council report says refurbishment works to the current authority headquarters in Morpeth would cost a maximum of £8m over five years - ten times less than cost of the new building and far less than the original Labour claim for refurbishment of £22.5m, a figure with no credible basis. 

The report, which was produced by Faithful & Gould in June 2015, has been kept from people living in Northumberland until now and shows the £8m refurbishment, which includes £1m on resurfacing car parks, would give the current council headquarters many more years of useful life. 

Instead, the Labour administration has suppressed the report as it looks to continue its grand scheme when services such as libraries and even the Fire Service are being run down.

 

Councillor Peter Jackson, the leader of Northumberland Conservatives, says his party have known for years the plan for a new building was a "white elephant" and this report proves it.

“It is absolutely shocking and a scandal that this report, as commissioned by the Council, has not been presented as key information to the Council or the Cabinet," he said.

"This is now proof of the monumental waste of public money that is the new County Hall in Ashington, which has been advertised in its full detail in the published tender documents as an £80 million project. 

"This massive expenditure of the public’s money on a Labour vanity project which cannot be justified in any way makes any amounts of money which might be raised from the sale of land pale into insignificance.

"Labour still try to keep up the pretence of an financial justification of their move. All I can say is that this hidden condition report proves that there are many years left in the current building and that it blows all of their arguments out of the water."

"Now the public can all see that we have a Labour-run County Council which persists in spending multi millions on vanity schemes yet is running down essential daily services such as our libraries or even our local Fire Service. 

"Residents can now see that there is a real need for change at our County Council and that there is an urgent need for a different approach.”

 

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