THE deputy leader of Northumberland County Council has refused to apologise to those involved in a police investigation into the local authority’s former development company.

Troubled Arch Northumberland was dissolved and replaced by Advance in 2018 following a string of scandals. A number of issues were uncovered by a review into the company following the Conservative election win in May 2017.

It was believed that there was “potential for criminality” in relation to some of these matters, but following three investigations, officers at Northumbria Police felt the “threshold for criminality” had not been breached.

This was confirmed at November’s meeting of the audit committee. Speaking at Wednesday’s meeting (March 27) of the council’s audit committee, Cllr Anne Dale said the statement made by the council’s director of law and governance Stephen Gerrard should be included in the new annual governance statement to “draw a line under the issue”.

At the time, Mr Gerrard said: “I would like to take this occasion to advise members on recent communication by police related to matters concerning Arch North East.

“This was a matter raised by Northumberland County Council in 2017. The police advised that, since 2017, Northumbria Police have undertaken three investigations led by trained and accredited senior investigating officers.

“Following the conclusion of all investigations, they are satisfied that the threshold of criminality has not been met and the evidence does not support any further police action.”

Cllr Dale said: “I just think that needs to be added in because it draws a line under all the police investigations we have had. It says it is finished, it has been looked at – otherwise we have got this mistrust.

“I think it would be helpful.”

Labour’s Cllr Lynne Grimshaw called on the council to apologise to those involved. Arch was set up under the previous Labour administration, with the alleged issues identified by the review commissioned by the Tories occurring under Labour.

She said: “There were implications for those involved. We should seek a full apology.

“Their lives were made a misery. We should send apologetic letters to those involved who have been vindicated. I’m sorry, it might be going further, but that is how I feel.”

Deputy council leader Cllr Richard Wearmouth hit back at Cllr Grimshaw’s comments.

He said: “I think we need to be careful about language. The police have been quite clear – it didn’t meet the threshold for criminality.

“That does not mean that people were vindicated or that things were not detected in our processes that did not need some remedy or action.

“Be very careful making such claims, because they could be potentially inappropriate.”

Cllr Wearmouth added that previous reports on issues at Arch were “based on fact”.