QUESTIONS have been raised over the governance of the £452 million Borderlands deal.

The deal, which was signed in March 2021, brought hundreds of millions of fresh investment into the Borderlands area consisting of Northumberland, Cumbria, the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway.

Projects in Northumberland include the Ad Gefrin whiskey distillery in Wooler, the Maltings Theatre regeneration in Alnwick and the Lilidorei attraction at Alnwick Garden.

However, speaking at Wednesday’s meeting (March 27) of Northumberland County Council’s audit committee, ex-council leader Peter Jackson raised concerns about the governance of the “significant” deal.

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Cllr Jackson called for a report to be brought back to committee on what the money was being spent on.

He said: “We are the accountable body for Borderlands. I looked at the website and saw a few very cursory notes from meetings of the Borderlands Project.

“I think we should have a further and detailed report to this meeting with balance sheets for the last two to three years. Borderlands has been up and running for three years – possibly more now.

“Specific amounts were delegated to us for specific workstreams, some of which were time-limited and seem to be falling behind. It is right that this council should put in place, or be assured that there is in place, proper governance processes, reporting and accounting around the whole thing.”

The Conservative councillor was backed by the Independent Group’s Cllr Anne Dale.

She added: “We do need further information on Borderlands. It has been around for a long time and we would like to see some outcomes.

“We need to know where the money is being spent and what the outcomes are, we need the whole picture.”

The current leader of the council, Glen Sanderson, was unhappy with the issue being raised.

He said: “I’m quite surprised to hear the comments about Borderlands. Meetings are live-streamed and in addition we publish regular reports.

“I’m very proud of the work Northumberland is undertaking as part of Borderlands. It is taking forward projects that would not normally be considered.

“Members can contact me – I’m on the board – and I’ve had no representations from either of the members who have spoken here. It is easy to criticise, and much more difficult to make the effort to find out the facts.”

Cllr Jackson responded: “All we are asking for is a report on the governance arrangements. I have no real criticism of the projects, I’m fully supportive.

“It is such a lot of money, we need to ensure from the council’s point of view that the governance arrangements are in place.”