MEMBERS of Hexham Civic Society are right to urge the local authority to think carefully about how the £2.4m High Street Heritage Action Zone funding is spent in the town.

The fund, awarded by Historic England, represents a unique opportunity to develop a carefully planned programme of work which will help repair key buildings and find new uses for empty sites in the town centre – all of which is long overdue.

It seems sensible to assume that the basis of the programme of work must have already been outlined as part of the successful funding bid.

So we would encourage those set to lead the investment project at Northumberland County Council to make public their vision for all to see.

The sooner this is done, the quicker stakeholders can provide their feedback, ensuring these much-needed improvements are delivered without delay.

For many traders, residents and regular shoppers in Hexham, this cash injection represents the first step towards securing a brighter future for the town as a place to live, work and visit.

It is an opportunity to be seized and its importance cannot be overestimated.

The strongly-worded letter from the society, which was sent to all of the town’s local councillors as well as the Courant, appears to be rooted in years of frustration and pleas for action which have resulted in nothing.

One thing is undeniable.

The fact that the entirety of the Hexham Conservation Area is now on Historic England’s Heritage At Risk Register is deplorable.

However, now is not the time to dwell on what has gone before.

Now is the time for all organisations with an interest in Hexham to unite and focus on the future of the town and its prosperity.

Action is needed to protect the past and secure the future.