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1 hour ago, Canny lass said:

Everything comes to those who wait!

No disrespect intended but that is very easy to say if you don't live in the town.

We moved to the town 12 years ago with a 3 year old daughter. She is now taking her GCSEs, A levels next year and then hopefully away for University. She has grown up in a town with virtually no leisure facilities other than a couple of playing fields. I really do hope we will get something other than retail and apartments - something like the announcement last year for example - but she will have her bags packed and will have left the town before the ribbon is cut to open it.

That is a crying shame for a generation to grow up and leave the area having never had a fraction of the opportunities afforded to the kids of Blyth, Cramlington, Morpeth, Ashington etc.

I'm sorry but a whole generation of kids shouldn't have had to wait.

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2 minutes ago, _pauls said:

 

That is a crying shame for a generation to grow up and leave the area having never had a fraction of the opportunities afforded to the kids of Blyth, Cramlington, Morpeth, Ashington etc.

I'm sorry but a whole generation of kids shouldn't have had to wait.

I agree........I firmly believe we have Olympic champions who have never had the chance to try the activities they would excell in!  

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1 hour ago, _pauls said:

No disrespect intended but that is very easy to say if you don't live in the town.

We moved to the town 12 years ago with a 3 year old daughter. She is now taking her GCSEs, A levels next year and then hopefully away for University. She has grown up in a town with virtually no leisure facilities other than a couple of playing fields. I really do hope we will get something other than retail and apartments - something like the announcement last year for example - but she will have her bags packed and will have left the town before the ribbon is cut to open it.

That is a crying shame for a generation to grow up and leave the area having never had a fraction of the opportunities afforded to the kids of Blyth, Cramlington, Morpeth, Ashington etc.

I'm sorry but a whole generation of kids shouldn't have had to wait.

No disrespect taken, Pauls and no disrespect intended in what I am about to say. I grew up in Netherton, in the 50s, which also had no 'council provided', leisure facilities and had only ONE playing field. It didn't have a library, butcher's, baker's, supermarket, hairdressers, clothing outlet or health centre either. For all of those amenities my caring parents had to take me on a bus-ride to the nearest town - Bedlington. It didn't have any leisure facilities then  either, other than a cinema, Humford Baths and the Hapenny Woods. Humford Baths, nearest thing to a leisure centre then, was a luxury my parents couldn't afford but there was, and still is, a river on its doorstep. That's where I learned to swim. There was no gym either but the Hapenny Woods was a good substitute on a family day out with a picnic thrown in for good measure. The lack of 'council provided' facilities didn't do me, or any of my schoolmates, any harm. On the contrary I think we were fitter, more social, and perhaps better prepared for adulthood than today's children.

I returned to Bedlington in the late 80s and lo and behold there were 'Leisure Centres' in Blyth and Cramlington. There was also a good bus service so it wasn't as though I needed to travel to the ends of the earth if I wanted chlorinated water to swim in, a wall to climb on or a place to meet friends.

You are abviously a caring parent too and clearly have the best interests of your child at heart. Has it really been more of a struggle for you than for my parents, to provide meaningful leisure activities for your daughter simply because what you want for her doesn't exist in Bedlington? I know from my visits that the bus service is infinitely better than when I was a child and maybe you have the luxury of a car?

Like you, I'm not hoping for more retail and apartments but there again, anything would be better than it is today. What I'm hoping for is something that attracts visitors and their hard earned money to Bedlington which may eventually initiate even further development of Bedlington.  Unfortunately I don't think a leisure centre is going to do that. Most towns in the immediate vicinity already have one and I get the impression that parents don't seem to want to  take a bus/car journey away from their home town today.

 

 

 

Edited by Canny lass
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1 hour ago, Malcolm Robinson said:

I agree........I firmly believe we have Olympic champions who have never had the chance to try the activities they would excell in!  

With all due respect, Malcolm. You are one of the most hard-working and caring councillors I've ever come across and I appreciate that you give many hours of your time and energy fighting for improvements to our beloved home town but ...

.. there are Olympic champions across the world who haven't ever had a pair of running shoes, never mind a sporting facility to train in. It requires a bit more than that. It requires passion, dedication, a will to succeed and possibly an adult or two to support and encourage and maybe cheer you on along the way. If you have that  you don't need the luxury of a sporting facility - as several great athletes have shown us through the years.

Edited by Canny lass
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2 hours ago, _pauls said:

No disrespect intended but that is very easy to say if you don't live in the town.

Earlier today I wrote a reply but then later deleted it, a reply to your comments, I wasn't sure it was my place to comment, like CL I questioned what facilities are available within the area? are there restrictions to the use of these, being from Blyth I used to travel to Bedlington, Ashington, Whitley Bay, Newcastle and many other places for my recreation, no parent drivers, no transportation at all.

Saturday I traveled to our next town South to watch the Grand kids play some ice hockey, 150km each way, sometimes I travel north to watch some curling, 185km each way, any of our kids showing prospects in a sport often travel to these places for higher levels of competition.

To have recreation facilities on your doorstep is great and desired but having them reasonably available is what really matters. It appears Bedlington has been left out for a long time and deserve to get some facilities to encourage youngsters to keep fit and meet others, socializing! 

I sincerely hope my comments don't offend anyone, just giving my opinion from a different perspective! (FWIW)

 

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1 hour ago, Canny lass said:

No disrespect taken, Pauls and no disrespect intended in what I am about to say. I grew up in Netherton, in the 50s, which also had no 'council provided', leisure facilities and had only ONE playing field. It didn't have a library, butcher's, baker's, supermarket, hairdressers, clothing outlet or health centre either. For all of those amenities my caring parents had to take me on a bus-ride to the nearest town - Bedlington. It didn't have any leisure facilities then  either, other than a cinema, Humford Baths and the Hapenny Woods. Humford Baths, nearest thing to a leisure centre then, was a luxury my parents couldn't afford but there was, and still is, a river on its doorstep. That's where I learned to swim. There was no gym either but the Hapenny Woods was a good substitute on a family day out with a picnic thrown in for good measure. The lack of 'council provided' facilities didn't do me, or any of my schoolmates, any harm. On the contrary I think we were fitter, more social, and perhaps better prepared for adulthood than today's children.

I returned to Bedlington in the late 80s and lo and behold there were 'Leisure Centres' in Blyth and Cramlington. There was also a good bus service so it wasn't as though I needed to travel to the ends of the earth if I wanted chlorinated water to swim in, a wall to climb on or a place to meet friends.

You are abviously a caring parent too and clearly have the best interests of your child at heart. Has it really been more of a struggle for you than for my parents, to provide meaningful leisure activities for your daughter simply because what you want doesn't exist in Bedlington? I know from my visits that the bus service is infinitely better than when I was a child and maybe you have the luxury of a car?

Like you, I'm not hoping for more retail and apartments but there again, anything would be better than it is today. What I'm hoping for is something that attracts visitors and their hard earned money to Bedlington which may initiate even furthr development.  Unfortunately I don't think a leisure centre is going to do that. Most towns in the immediate vicinity already have one and I get the impression that parents don't seem to want to  take a bus/car journey away from their home town today.

 

 

 

I appreciate what you are saying that not every town will have every facility, and small villages will always rely on nearby towns for some things, but Bedlington is not a small village. Bedlington is larger than Morpeth, Alnwick, Hexham, Berwick or Amble. Think about the facilities these places have and think about what Bedlington has. Think about how much council tax we are paying in to the coffers of the council and think about what we are getting in return.

The fact is that towns the size of Bedlington across the county (and the country as a whole) do have local facilities like leisure centres, cinemas, theatres, museums etc in fact I suspect that each of the towns I listed above has most or all of these facilities while we have none of them.

Comparing the 1950s to the 2020s is a little misleading. I grew up in the 1970s and that was a different world with a fraction of the traffic and less petty crime and violence so as a 10-12 yr old I'd think nothing of cycling 5 miles to the nearest "bigger" towns for the cinema or the amusement arcades, with little fear of getting knocked off my bike or having it nicked. Plus few kids in those days grew up in households where both parents worked full time so there was more scope for parents to take them to facilities that were further afield. You can argue that life was simpler, happier and fitter back then but the world is a very different place and it is far more relevant to compare Bedlington of 2021 to Morpeth or Blyth of 2021 than to Netherton of 1950.

The key for me is independence - as a kid I had access to facilities that were further afield because it was easier and safer to get around than it is today. The same applies to people of all ages for who transport is not affordable or easy.

If the argument is "why can't people travel to use facilities?" then I'm not quite sure why this argument only applies to Bedlington and not Blyth, Morpeth, Cramlington and Ashington when it comes to swimming baths for example.

As I say I don't mean to be disrespectful of other opinions but this is of material impact on the lives and livelihoods of the people of Bedlington and while it may be of interest to those who may once of lived here but now reside elsewhere it will have little or no impact on their lives.

It is a little like the fable of the chicken and the pig

Edited by _pauls
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Strong arguments all round on this subject. It seems pertinent that those opining what Bedlington doesn’t need left the town a while ago and those advocating for community leisure provision are current residents. I grew up, went to school, made long term friends in Bedlington, but left to train and followed my career far from here, only returning after retirement. Happy to return to a quiet community with access to green spaces, woods, rivers, beaches and limited facilities suits my needs. HOWEVER, it’s been made very obvious in my 3 1/2 years here, mainly from Facebook group reports, that roaming gangs of disaffected youths have no social hub (Bedlington East Community Centre did set aside an evening I believe). In my short time back here I’ve seen a huge increase in housing being built where there used to be fields but no matching growth in what should be the heart of the town. I see facilities for mums and babies/toddlers and then pubs and restaurants but there’s nothing that I’m aware of for a large section of this community who fall in between. It’s not fair to be moaning on Facebook that “ they’re at it again’ ‘the police are moving them’ ‘ they’re heading to the woods!’”. Surely a strong community should provide for ALL of it’s constituent parts  @MalcolmRobinson !. Otherwise it’s possible that Bedlington will continue to be a place where people grow up and leave? I see a lot of bricks and mortar but little in the way of the strong foundations that a sturdy community needs. A lot of us are keenly interested in Bedlington’s history but we do need to support those who are striving to create this town’s future.

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For my tuppence worth I can see and understand the points made but we have moved on from the 1950’s and 60’s and today’s society is sadly at odds with many of the views and character which many of us grew up in.  Some bad some good. 

Part of my ‘job’ is to try and get my residents the same or better opportunities available elsewhere and that is something I will continue to do whatever.  I personally don’t believe a full blown leisure centre will be seen in Bedlington but I was working on a small multiuse sports centre, at West Lea, and had the financial backing it needed off the then administration, until NCC blew it out of the water by costing up something which wasn’t needed thereby making it financially prohibitive!  I then had to agree to put that budget into the Town Centre development for sporting provision and given the impasse I was in I agreed.  The fact that even that provision was subsequently withdrawn by the same people at NCC, I will leave others to make their minds up about.  I know what I now believe to be the case! 

As for the case of access to other centres in nearby towns let me recount a tale I was told some time ago.   For a youngster who wants to play, say badminton, with their mates at Concordia and it’s a school night and they need to use public transport, they need two busses.  They get in at around 5pm, have something to eat, do their homework and then start out at 6.30pm.  It could take well over an hour to get to the leisure centre from, let’s say West Lea again.  So the booking for the centre will have to be around 8pm.  Coming out at 9pm and then getting busses back home it’s well after 10pm before they hit the door.  Younger kids can’t do this so the argument that facilities are available within reasonable distance cannot be true!  That’s inequality for our youngsters and one of the main reasons I want to see some sort of provision locally.   Of course the new train line might change that dynamic and another reason I support that.   

As for the regeneration of our Town I’m lobbying for a retail element but also a non-retail element to bolster footfall for the retailers that do come, which I think is essential in this day and age. 

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9 hours ago, lilbill15 said:

It seems pertinent that those opining what Bedlington doesn’t need left the town a while ago and those advocating for community leisure provision are current residents.

There were many reasons for leaving the area but non were about Bedlington or the area, but I feel it has given me a different/wider perspective, which I respectfully share. 

Malcolm said,

"I personally don’t believe a full blown leisure centre will be seen in Bedlington but I was working on a small multiuse sports centre, at West Lea, and had the financial backing it needed off the then administration,"

I agree with Malcolm with his realistic vision for multiuse centre, My suggestion would form a group of others who feel strongly about the issue and with the guidance of someone like Malcolm look at the options, Raise awareness, Raise concerns, Raise funds if necessary! then Raise Hell until the appropiate authorities take notice! 

I personally would be considering approaching the new LARGE company moving into your area for sponsorship, our recreation centre built 1969 when the town was being built and it was named Akasaka after the major Japanese sponsor. Today it is very common for large companies to name facilities (stadiums etc) to get the publicity/ recognition. Bedlington "Britishvolt recreation Centre" BBRC.

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I agree a full blown leisure centre is not necessarily what we need, I was just pointing out that some leisure facilities including a swimming pool seemed to be promised/announced by Advance Northumberland 14 months ago and has now seemingly disappeared. I'm just looking for something other than another small budget supermarket and a row of shops and flats which is all that has been confirmed. No sign of any update on plans to "boost the scale of leisure facilities in the town centre"

I'd like to think that the millions from the various national regeneration/levelling up schemes that have been announced will land us something more than an Aldi.

I appreciate Malcolm's comments here and in the video clip that suggests that there are plans well underway that haven't been announced to the public yet and his request that there can be an update. I am just pointing out again that its more then 6 years since the council took control of the Tesco site and so far there is is still no confirmed leisure offering. In that time I think we've lost half a library and a swimming pool.

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Hey @Malcolm Robinson! This small town has several pubs/inns/restaurants, two dress shops, a tantalising shoeshop, butcher, purveyor of fish game and produce, plus many other services, including tourist information. And a railway station. Maybe Bedlington needs to reevaluate it’s status and facilities, particularly with the possible reintroduction of rail links. R🌈xxx

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19 hours ago, lilbill15 said:

Maybe Bedlington needs to reevaluate it’s status and facilities, particularly with the possible reintroduction of rail links. R🌈xxx

I totally agree with that lilbill15.  I think thats the way to drive our regeneration instead of just having a few shops plonked into a rehashed Town Centre Development offering whats already available locally!  Ive been suggesting that for at least 3 years and the silver lining with Covid (if there is such a thing!) meant we had the chance!  

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On 08/11/2021 at 21:48, _pauls said:

I appreciate what you are saying that not every town will have every facility, and small villages will always rely on nearby towns for some things, but Bedlington is not a small village. Bedlington is larger than Morpeth, Alnwick, Hexham, Berwick or Amble. Think about the facilities these places have and think about what Bedlington has. Think about how much council tax we are paying in to the coffers of the council and think about what we are getting in return.

The fact is that towns the size of Bedlington across the county (and the country as a whole) do have local facilities like leisure centres, cinemas, theatres, museums etc in fact I suspect that each of the towns I listed above has most or all of these facilities while we have none of them.

Comparing the 1950s to the 2020s is a little misleading. I grew up in the 1970s and that was a different world with a fraction of the traffic and less petty crime and violence so as a 10-12 yr old I'd think nothing of cycling 5 miles to the nearest "bigger" towns for the cinema or the amusement arcades, with little fear of getting knocked off my bike or having it nicked. Plus few kids in those days grew up in households where both parents worked full time so there was more scope for parents to take them to facilities that were further afield. You can argue that life was simpler, happier and fitter back then but the world is a very different place and it is far more relevant to compare Bedlington of 2021 to Morpeth or Blyth of 2021 than to Netherton of 1950.

The key for me is independence - as a kid I had access to facilities that were further afield because it was easier and safer to get around than it is today. The same applies to people of all ages for who transport is not affordable or easy.

If the argument is "why can't people travel to use facilities?" then I'm not quite sure why this argument only applies to Bedlington and not Blyth, Morpeth, Cramlington and Ashington when it comes to swimming baths for example.

As I say I don't mean to be disrespectful of other opinions but this is of material impact on the lives and livelihoods of the people of Bedlington and while it may be of interest to those who may once of lived here but now reside elsewhere it will have little or no impact on their lives.

It is a little like the fable of the chicken and the pig

I see where you are coming from Pauls but before I get into the discussion on Sports and Leisure facilities let me just ask, am I right in thinking that you believe ” there was more scope for parents to take them [children] to facilities that were further afield” because ”few kids in those days grew up in households where both parents worked full time”? My father , like those of my peers, was a miner working 8-9 hour shifts, 6 days a week, 2 weeks holiday and five bank holidays off. My mother on the other hand, also like those of my peers, was a housewife working 16 hour shifts, 7 days a week, no holidays or bankholidays off. In Netherton, and I imagine Bedlington, this seemed to be the rule rather than the exception to it. So my experience was that every child grew up with two parents working MORE than full time compared to today’s standards. OK, we may have had one parent working at home, without a wage of course, but that didn’t give either parent more time than the parents of today. In fact, I would argue to the contrary.

 

My married life and, I suspect, yours became infinitely easier than my mother’s with the availability of:

washing machine/tumble dryer instead of red raw hands and a mangle in the back yard

vaccuum cleaner instead of brush, shovel and carpet beater

late-night supermarkets instead of a bus journey to Bedlington while the kids were at school

fridge/freezer instead of almost daily shopping trips

sewing machine to mend clothes and household linnen – not that I bothered much with the latter, the era of ’just throw it away and buy new’ was just beginning.

no garden/allotment of any necessity (vegetables) to tend to instead of a garden for relaxing

pre-fabricated meals and take-away meals, instead of home-cooked, should the need/urge arise

gas/electric cooker instead of coal-fired kitchen range requiring endless carrying of coal

central heating instead of above-mentioned kitchen range

electric food mixer instead of a wooden spoon

in-house, running, hot and cold water instead of a cold water street tap – one to every 8 houses.

own transport (other than bike, which wasn’t available to my mother either)

shorter working hours and 2 days off

and, as if all that time saved wasn’t enough,

two wages coming in instead of one.

 

Given that, it seems reasonable to believe that time and money ought to be more abundant now than in the 50s and if not, perhaps we should be asking ourselves why not. Perhaps today we have different priorities for the use of our time and money and that certainly is open to comparison. I feel, rightly or wrongly, that if two parents work outside the home then that is their choice and no-one else’s. They alone have made the decision that they have the time to do so without detracting from the quality of the family life they wish for. Likewise it is their choice as to what they spend their earnings on.

 

However, given the above comparison of life in the 50s and life today, it leaves me wondering how my parents could find the time and money, to take their children on an outing involving a bus ride, once a week to the playground park at Beech Grove or to the ’Picnic Field’ as we then called Atlee park, while parents today feel that they can not? For my parents, it most certainly involved making sacrifices to be able to prioritise time and money for that purpose. I’m sure my father would have preferred being at home listening to a football match on the radio on Saturday afternoon and my mother would most certainly have liked to get into bed before 1am the day before instead having to stay up and prepare the dinner for the next day so that we could get out. For us, the children, it involved learning that we couldn’t have everything we asked for and that waiting was part of life.

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I'm not quite sure what your message is there, Malcolm. Are you saying that children prefer TV and video games to going out? If so, why all the fuss about a leisure centre for youngsters?

Or perhaps you are saying that parents just want a quiet night and the child has no choice about going out?

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Back to leisure centres!

This will be long! I’ve been in bed three days with the after effects of the third dose of Covid vaccine so I've had time to ponder and even do a little bit of research.

 

With regards to Leisure/sports facilities, let me make it clear, Pauls,  that I, like you, am 100% behind the introduction of ANY amenity in Bedlington which will enhance the lives of its residents, children or otherwise. It was, therefore rather disturbing to read that any development in Bedlington while it ”may be of interest to those who may once have lived here but now reside elsewhere it will have little or no impact on their lives”. Speaking as an ex Bedlingtonian I can say to you that residence in another town, city or even another country does not necessarily sever all ties. Several former residents, myself among them, retain some strong, physical ties which include property, family and friends or even a plot in a cemetary alongside other family members. I can also say that some developments do have a big impact even for non residents. If, for example, you own property renting it out or selling it can be very dependent on the amenities offered by the town. But that’s by the by. We were discussing Leisure and sports facilities and their eventual introduction to the town of Bedlington.

Good discussion so far, the rest of you guys!

As I said initially, I’m 100% behind the introduction of ANY amenity in Bedlington which will enhance the lives of its residents but I would be 200% behind the introduction of any amenity that would enhance the lives of Bedlington residents, even those who do not want or are unable to partake in sporting activities, while at the same time encouraging footfall from visitors, possibly leading to opportunities for further development of, and for, sthe town. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that a Leisure/Sports facility can achieve that footfall.

 

If I understand the situation with such leisure/sports facilities in Northumberland correctly, it is the charitable institution ’Active Northumberland’ who manage ALL leisure facilities (and some other services) on behalf of NCC and looking at their website, I can see that they manage the following leisure/sports facilities (listed here in opening order for the benefit of ex- residents who may not know):

Blyth Sports Centre (Opened 1967, extended 1979 and 2006, modernised 2021)

Ashington Leisure Centre (Opened 1972 Refurbished 2009, New centre Opened 2016.)

Newbiggin Sports and Community Centre (Opened 1973)

Concordia Leisure Centre, Cramlington (Opened 1977, refurbished 2016)

Wentworth Leisure Centre, Hexham (Opened 1986, new pool 2008, Refurbished 2016)

Swan Centre, Berwick ( Opened 1990) (rebuilt 2021)

Riverside Leisure Centre, Morpeth (Opened 1991)

Sporting Club Cramlington (Opened 2002)

Willowburn Sports and Leisure Centre, Alnwick (Opened 2003)

Hirst Welfare Centre, Ashington (Opened 2004)

Northburn Sports and Community Centre, Cramlington (Opened 2005)

Rothbury Pool and Gym (Opened 2008)

Sporting Club Bedlington (Opened 2016)

Druridge Bay Fitness Centre (Opened 2017) (Temporarily closed)

Ponteland Leisure Centre (Opened 2020)

Amble facility*

* NCC make no mention i of any facility in Amble yet they claim to manage ”all” NCC’s facilities.

So, for the purpose of this discussion, I’ll take Pauls’ word for it that NCC do have a facility there, bringing the total to 16. I’ve plotted these, in red, on a Northumberland County Council map dated 2018. Bedlington, I’ve marked in blue. As you would expect, these amenities are located in the 14 most heavily populated areas in NCC’s region and only one amenity is in Bedlington, that’s the small red spot on the upper edge of the blue.

 

 

 

NCC Leisure and Sporting facilities 4.jpg

I agree, Pauls, that Bedlington today is no longer a small village, but have you considered how it was in the 70s when the leisure centre boom began and local councils all over England were building centres as if their lives depended on it? I have no figures to support it but I believe the population was infinitely smaller. I know that it increased by 2,000 in the decade 2001 -2011 alone and goodness knows how much prior to that.

 

Looking at the development of Leisure/sporting facilities in Northumberland I would guess that local councils got into the groove very quickly with the first centres springing up in Ashington 1972, Newbiggin 1973, Cramlington 1977 and they even extended and modernised the already exixting facility in Blyth, built 1967, in 1979. That’s not a bad achievment given the money, planning and work involved. Clearly someone involved in the decision-making had read the then newly published report of John Birch 1972 Provision for Sport and followed his recommendations of centres with a catchment of approximately ”4 miles or 20 minutes”, because those four centres are very close to each other when compared to similar facilities in the rest of Northumberland. Note here that Birch’s recommendation refers to catchment area size, not town size, or population size.

After Blyth in 1979, there seems to have been a considerable break in the building programme as the next centre didn’t see the light of day until 1986 when the Wentworth Centre in Hexham came into being. This must have been a blow to Bedlingtonians whose temperatures were already running high in 1977 when the third centre, Concordia, was built in Cramlington. Unlike its counterparts Concordia didn’t get the town name, instead it was called Concordia Leisure Centre. Being a new Bedlingtonian you may not be aware of the reason for that name. There were long discussions about it. It is based on the word ’concord’, meaning ”harmony between people; lack of quarrelling and unfriendliness” (OED), and was a response to the ongoing disputes about allocation of resources within the district. My brother, a brickie actually had stones thrown at him by people from Bedlington because he was working on Concordia!

So why Hexham and not Bedlington for the fifth leisure centre? I personally don’t think Bedlington was forgotten as seems to be the general opinion. I believe it was a conscious decision at council level, possibly from the very early planning stages, as Bedlington does fit nicely into the catchment areas of all four centres (Google measurements from Bedlington Market Place):

 

Newbiggin Sports and Community Centre 5.8 miles /10 minutes

Blyth Sports Centre 4.5 – 6.7 miles / 10-12 minutes

Concordia Leisure Centre 4.8 – 5.2 miles / 9 -11 minutes

Ashington Leisure Centre 5.8 – 7.5 miles /11-12 minutes

 

Alternately, the decision may have come during the building programme when planners had a look at what lay within reach of Bedlington and decided that people within 4 miles/20 minutes of Hexham were entitled to the same opportunities. After all, they pay their taxes too. It’s worth remembering here, that until 1986 Ashington, Blyth, Cramlington and Newbiggin were the ONLY places in the whole of NCC’s region with a leisure centre.

Then there is the economical aspect of building a leisure centre. Councils, like families, do not have pockets that are endlessly deep. What self-respecting family would put a swing in their garden when there’s a public play park on the other side of the garden fence? Would it not be better to simply put a gate in the fence and use the existing swings? The money saved could well provide something else, another experience, for the child, or why not something for another child who doesn’t like swings and has no use for them. Of course, there would still be the dilemma faced by all parents: at what age do I let my child go through that gate on his/her own or indeed play on the swings on his/her own? I don’t believe that falls within the remit of council planning at county level or otherwise. It’s a parental responsibility and always has been – even in the 1950s.

 

That said, I do not mean we shouln’t be concerned about safety outside the home, whether the assessed risk be from by traffic, paedophiles or people unable to control their fingers (nicking bikes) or their temper, and if these are our concerns for people of any age travelling to Ashington, Blyth, Cramlington or Newbiggin to enjoy leisure facilities then I personally believe that the problem is being addressed in the wrong way by asking for a costly leisure facility in Bedlington. That is not addressing the real problem.

Traffic accidents, assaults, even of a sexual nature are not unique to Ashington, Blyth or Cramlington or to the roads leading to them. Neither are they unique to the twenty first century. They can just as easily occur today in Bedlington, yards from your own front door, as the tragic death of Bethany Fisher on Victoria Terrace in 2017 ought to remind us. I myself was witness to an attempted sexual assault on my own 14 year old sister just 600 yards from home. (@Lilbill, the slipperiness of the bank leading down to the bridge over the Green Letch was not the only cause of my fear for that place), and don’t think I need to remind anybody about the recent incidents involving Bedlington residents Colin Proctor and Robert Edington.

hile roads are common places for traffic accidents, Internet and ... I read recently… leisure centres are common places for grooming by paedophiles. Should we stop our children from using any of them to reduce the risk? No we should not. As parents, and grandparents, we have a responsibility to teach awareness, without scaring, road sense and respect for others while at the same time judgingwhen to reduce parental support and let the child enjoy the ”independence” that Pauls had in the 70s ”without the risk of being knocked off her bike or having it nicked.

Why not direct efforts and finace to improving safety to, from and at existing leisure centres instead: cycle paths, provision of a (free) bus for school children once a week to Cramlington, better bus service, more crossings, bann mobile phones around pools and in changing rooms (it’s always amazed me the number of parent who sit poolside with mobile in hand and eyes on mobile instead of on their children in the pool). And, as you took up bike theft Pauls, why not bike lockers or two-tier ground anchored bike racks outside the entrance to leisure centres where they would be under continuous surveillance from passers by. They work extremely well in all parts of Amsterdam and Copenhagen and the cost of buying say 1,000, would be infinitely cheaper than yet another multi-million pound leisure centre which, unless it has some mega-super, state of the art, bank-breaking attraction in situ, is not going to attract anyone from Ashington, Blyth, Cramlington, Newbiggin or even the nearby Morpeth, cos they’ve already got one.

 

That money, could then be used to provide another amenity in Bedlington to cater for the needs of other groups than gymgoers who, looking at the map, are in my opinion, already well catered for. Should that amenity be something that Ashington, Blyth, Cramlington, Newbiggin or nearby Morpeth don’t have that would be a bonus. Myself, I could think a larger cultural venue for all types of music or theatre. A spin off could be cafes, restaurants and possibly overnight accomodation so that people could make a weekend of it; have a meal, see a show, stay overnight and maybe even walk the heritage trail next day before returning home. Another spin off, especially for youngsters could be music or drama schools in a corner of the venue. Sport and fitness are extremely important but there are other aspects to a healthy, well-balanced life

 

Edited by Canny lass
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I think the clamour for a leisure centre is almost certainly because many feel cheated by the system and we always shout loudest when there is a fair bit of righteous indignation involved.

 

The pressure on some parents is enormous whilst many ‘let nature take its course.’ 

 

I know of loads of activities available for local kids and yet the popular view is that there is nothing for them to do.  I don’t subscribe to that and even if true shouldn’t the ones doing the shouting be doing something to change it?  These activities might not be what some want but there is a lot to choose from and there could be more. 

 

Having said that the availability of a decent local community/sports venue is certainly lacking and that’s why I put my energy into changing that aspect. 

 

Just read your missive CL and the point about leisure centres and at the end of the day it will come down to Pounds, Shillings and Pence!  I think most of not all are supported financially maybe that’s why we are seeing existing ones replaced rather than new ones being built. 

Doesn’t stop private sector providers coming in and we see several gyms etc in Bedlington now. 

I even had to sort out parking at one so the clients could drive the few hundreds of yards, in some cases, to exercise.  So if anyone can explain that one to me??????????   

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I really don't want to get dragged into what is clearly an emotive subject about whether parents were better or worse in the 1950s to the 2020s. I have some sympathy with the argument but its not really relevant.

What we are talking about here is the facilities offered to residents of Bedlington today compared to towns of similar sizes (and presumably making similar inputs into the council's coffers).

 

Edited by _pauls
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