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Calls to fix pounds 4m barrage; Former MP: Council has moral duty.

Byline: ADRIAN PEARSON

A FORMER city MP has called for action to stop a regeneration project turning into a white elephant. Jim Cousins, who was Newcastle Central MP until the last election, said Newcastle City Council had "a moral duty" to ensure a pounds 4m unused Quayside barrage is brought back into working use.

Mr Cousins hit out after it emerged Newcastle Council had left the Ouseburn Barrage unused for 20 months.

The regeneration project was opened in 2009, some pounds 1m over budget.

But 15 months later it was out of action and has remained so ever since.

While city officials say they will carry out an inspection and look to bring it back into working order, Mr Cousins say this does not go far enough.

He said: "I was one of those who had serious concerns about this project, but now that we have it here and it has taken up resources which could have been better used, there is a moral duty on the council to see the barrage kept in working order." Mr Cousins said that European funds used to help build the barrage come with strict rules, and could mean that "as well as a moral obligation there is also a potentially very expensive legal obligation to keep the barrage going".

A council spokesman said: "The council's maintenance arrangement for the Ouseburn Barrage with its current external contractor will come to an end once the outstanding repairs and maintenance work is completed early next month.

"The council will be working urgently on procuring specialist external support for the future maintenance of the barrage."
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 28, 2012
Words:268
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