North East Connected

Council welcomes apology after planning slur

The leader of Northumberland County Council has welcomed a letter of apology which followed independent audit findings into unfounded allegations about a Morpeth planning application.

An audit was carried out last year after three letters of complaint were received by the Chief Executive around planning applications at land west of Lancaster Park in Morpeth.

An independent investigation found that due planning process was properly followed, with investigating officers stating: “No evidence was found to substantiate these assertions, which appear to be without foundation and instead based on hearsay, supposition and conjecture”.

An article was also published on the Morpeth and Wansbeck Conservatives Association (MWCA) website which referred to the planning application that had been made by Mitford Estate LLP, which is owned by Mr Bruce and Freddy Shepherd.

Now MWCA and their chairman Richard Wearmouth have published a letter “apologising unreservedly to the Shepherd family and to Mitford Estate LLP for implying that their conduct in relation to the planning application had been anything other than honest and entirely professional at all times, and they sincerely regret the upset and embarrassment”.

Council leader Grant Davey said: “The independent audit thoroughly examined all the complaints and allegations made around this planning application.

“It is very disappointing  when comments and insinuations are made against councillors and officers which are clearly untrue but have serious potential to bring this authority into disrepute.

“I note the apology from the MWCA to the Shepherd’s and Mitford Estate LLP and the donation which is being made to charity. I hope this will make people think carefully before making unfounded allegations in the public arena.”

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