Following Lowick.Live’s feature on the absent Cllr Lawrie last month, confirmation of his imminent departure comes in the latest edition of David Banks’ “Clarion” – where a similar discussion had also taken place about his mysterious whereabouts. Click this link for the story: http://www.voiceofthenorth.net/exclusive-eu-rules-force-northumberland-county-councillor-quit/
The soon-to-be-gone Councillor ascribes his absence to EU regulations which have caused his snuff business to become uneconomic – hence production and himself have had to quit these shores for the Isle of Man and Scotland. Apparently his range of products attracts a large registration tariff for each one, and staying in the UK would have made them hugely unprofitable.
Said to be a safer way of maintaining a tobacco/nicotine addiction, snuff still attracts criticism for its less attractive links to nasal and other cancers. Its claim to health is based on the non-inhalation of tar into the lungs. So the debate about whether the EU has done us a favour, or is a millstone round our necks, continues……
In the meantime, Cllr Lawrie in announcing his farewell, proudly points to his 100% attendance record at County Council Meetings, since taking office back in 2017. We wonder if attendance is a means of guaranteeing the payment of the reasonable NCC Councillor’s allowance, which for him in 2017-18 amounted to £13,129.57. Of this, over £1000 was travelling expenses – however little can have been earned by attending Parish Council Meetings – where his attendance record [for Lowick at any rate] was 2 out of 15.
That many people believe that a County Councillor is a key contact and mover for parishes was obviously not an issue for our departing businessman – where many promises were made, but few delivered.
So we wait to hear when the by-election will be and are cheered to learn that Dougie Watkin will be standing. This is no party political point – Dougie worked hard to represent his voters, and had his finger on pevery pulse but one – the surge that defeated him in 2017. In the meantime, just about everyone of note has been approached by the Conservative Party to stand – and have decided against it. There are plenty of suitable candidates who are well known in our community, from all sides – and we hope we get a good one to vote for – or against! Perhaps Dougie should consider standing for the Conservatives – who at least would give him some support in his campaign.
THE CORNHILL SCANDAL
But if you think that’s all, it isn’t! When the leading group on NCC heard that the Cllr had stood down, they asked Glen Sanderson, the Conservative Councillor representing Longhorsley, to “fill in” for Cllr Lawrie at meetings of Cornhill Parish Council. Apparently “filling in” is accepted practice in emergencies- so that business is kept going.
Sadly, no such arrangement has been made for other Parish Councils – who get nothing.
We understanding that the Parish Council at Cornhill has voted to keep the loan of their own County Councillor a secret, for reasons which are hard to understand. Obviously, the support of the County Council in this way is a big benefit – it could give them a local advantage over their neighbours.
The other Councils look forward to hearing from NCC what the short and long term arrangements will be for them.