Tyne & Wear

Northumberland County Hall move: Conservatives protest

White elephant banner
Image caption Conservative protestors said the proposed move would be costly and of little benefit

A protest is being held over plans to move Northumberland County Council's headquarters to a different town.

The Labour-controlled council has voted to push ahead with the proposals to move from County Hall in Morpeth to a new base in Ashington.

Conservatives called the move expensive and politically motivated and staged the protest outside County Hall, holding a banner of a white elephant.

The council said the move would bring economic benefits.

The demonstration comes while the council holds a scrutiny meeting to examine the planned move, which the Conservatives claim will cost £40m.

'Financial holes'

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, a protester and Conservative parliamentary candidate for Berwick-upon-Tweed, said: "We feel that in straitened financial times, we must not be spending huge capital sums like this when we have a perfectly satisfactory building here."

The Conservatives also argue the Labour administration wants to bring the headquarters into the south-east of the county, because the party is electorally strong there.

The council said: "The proposals would generate over £100m of economic activity in the county and help us to protect vital services which are being threatened by government cuts."

The £100m figure refers to estimates in a report commissioned by the council, but Ms Trevelyan called the research "full of financial holes".

Image copyright Northumberland County Council
Image caption The council hopes to make the move away from County Hall in Morpeth by 2018

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