On 25th May,2017 Northumberland got a new administration which claimed it would be the 'most transparent council in the country'.
That was obviously an aspiration because in practice, what the residents of Northumberland have got is a 'secret society'.
Within days of the election result the county set off on a path which has involved 'secret investigations' into Arch and into the former administration all based on a premise that there must have been something corrupt. No evidence has been tabled so far despite months of lurid gossip and leaks from a council which has slipped into maladministration territory.
Some have said its out of control and its hard to argue with that after the latest example of the secret council in practice.
Yesterday, Corporate services scrutiny committee had tabled a report which has been hidden from public scrutiny by the imaginative excuse of 'commercial sensitivity'. It discussed the move of 200 jobs from Ashington to Dudley in North Tyneside.
No consultation with staff or their trade unions, no involvement in the report by Northumberland officers with Newcastle City Council officers putting forward the case to move 200 jobs in revenues and benefits out of Northumberland. No discussion of the economic impact on Ashington which is already reeling from the Tory decision to ditch 1000 jobs desperately needed to boost Ashington.
Today Tory cabinet led by Cllr Peter Jackson, a man with so many secrets, he won't open his mouth when he speaks nodded through the decision to strip Ashington of 200 jobs.
So much for transparency - staff in the dark and elected politicians in the dark - residents in the dark.
They've refused to come clean about the disastrous decision to remove the core strategy, using and abusing council officers who have raised concerns. The council is actively circulating 'fake news' to confuse and mislead residents. I'm sure it will come as a shock to the good people of Ponteland that the Dissington Garden Village which both the MP and Cllr Jackson have taken credit for stopping will almost inevitably go ahead because of the removal of the core strategy.
Northumberland is well known for its 'Dark Skies' project but it now faces a 'Dark Democracy' project led by Mr Secret Cllr Jackson and ably assisted by the so called 'Transparency Campaigner' Cllr Georgina Hill and her rabble of trolls who is supposed to be the independent chair of the council's Audit Committee.
Opposition members are being starved of information while Northumberland Tories seek to fatten the council up for their long term of selling off great swathes to their friends in the private sector.
This is all being done in the 'dark' by a small group of Tories helped by a smattering of misguided 'independents' and most importantly, it's being done TO the people of Northumberland not WITH them.
Shame on them.