We got it wrong, admits council

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Northumberland County Council's executive director of adult services Daljit Lally received an OBE.
Northumberland County Council's executive director of adult services Daljit Lally received an OBE.
6 April 2017 1:52PM

NORTHUMBERLAND County Council has issued an apology to Prudhoe over its mishandling of the town’s youth centre.

In January, the East Centre was placed on the market by the council with no public consultation.

The Prudhoe community reacted with fury and amid the public outcry, county council leader Coun. Grant Davey agreed to halt the building’s sale.

Prudhoe councillors have been calling for answers from the county council ever since, and last week deputy chief executive Daljit Lally and Mike Robbins, of the strategic estate management department, turned up at the town council meeting and admitted the council had got it wrong.

Mrs Lally said: “I apologise. It’s clear that there was a lack of communication and there aren’t any excuses.”

Mr Robbins added: “We got it wrong on this occasion. We want to work with you going forward.”

The county council had been asked to reveal who had been responsible for putting the East Centre up for sale and although Mrs Lally didn’t reveal any names, she said the decision had been made because of financial pressures.

She said: “We needed to look at each locality where youth services were based, consult with local people and look at how we would do our best to protect them, given that we have a £30m reduction to make across council services.”

Mr Robbins told councillors he would be happy to discuss a potential community asset transfer of the East Centre.

But Mrs Lally warned: “I think I need to say that, clearly, it’s not an asset that’s fit for purpose.

“For the East Centre, we would look to potential alternatives that maybe didn’t carry a capital cost.

“I just don’t want to raise hopes for people because the council is a bit cash strapped.

“I can’t stand here and say absolutely the centre will stay there, but we will absolutely discuss it with yourselves.”

Mrs Lally said the council would reassess the viability of the East Centre in June or July this year.

Coun. George McCreedy said: “Times are difficult, but there are no excuses not to treat people properly. We’re all human beings and deserve to be treated with respect.”

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