A seven-year-old girl has brought her community closer together by creating beautiful messages of hope.
Olivia Walker, from Bedlington, started by drawing a large poster to put on the fence for her next-door neighbours to see, because she "didn't want them to be sad when they were walking the dog".
She then began to make more personalised posters, to display on fences or in her windows, aimed at cheering up other neighbours.
The rainbow has become a popular symbol of hope within the pandemic over the two weeks, with many households displaying rainbows in their windows as a sign that this 'storm' will pass.
But Olivia has taken it a step further with her personalised messages, drawing more for strangers online after her designs were shared on a local Facebook group and brought delight to many who saw them.
The St Bede's R C Primary School pupil said: "I wanted to do it because people are along, and I wanted to make them happy. It makes me happy to see how much people like them."
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By Bill Crosby
Following the tragic road traffic collision on Victoria Terrace in the early hours of Saturday 19 August, I was contacted by concerned residents regarding the safety issues around that stretch of road. Suggestions were made regarding traffic calming measures as this was considered to be an accident blackspot and, following an initial telephone discussion with Northumbria Police that weekend, I met with Superintendent Huddleston at Bedlington Police Station on Friday 25 August.
The Superintendent was kind enough to fully brief me on the investigation to-date and together we visited the scene of the collision to examine the road and the conditions. We are fortunate in Bedlington to have quite wide roads that allow cars to pass safely even when there are vehicles parked at either side and this stretch of road is no different; in fact, whilst travelling from Ian Bell’s towards Bedlington Station, there is a good view with little obstruction of the road ahead. It is the opinion of the Police that the road conditions in no way contributed to this tragedy.
Traffic calming measures were discussed but the issue is where to put them? I myself have witnessed cars speeding along Hirst Villas and then onto Stead Lane and there could be an argument for traffic calming measures there also. As you may be aware, we are constantly being told that there are no bad roads, only bad drivers, and prior to this incident, there have been only three recorded collisions over the past three years in that area, all low speed incidents and damage only.
The period between an incident and a Crown Court appearance is always the most difficult and I would ask people not to fuel rumour and speculation as to the cause but rather let the Police get on with their job and investigate this incident fully. If anyone has any issues or concerns surrounding this matter, Superintendent Huddleston has asked me to pass on that he is more than willing to meet with anyone in order to address any matters arising. If anyone would like to take up this offer, please let me know and I will relay it to him.
Our thoughts are with all the families affected by this tragic event.
By Russ Wallace
Local issues involving road safety and town parking have come to the fore over the last week or two.
Potholes! All 67 NCC Councillors have been asked to nominate three potholes for filling. If you are aware of any potholes please email me at the address below. Don’t worry if they are not in Bedlington Central ward – I’ll pass the information on to other Councillors. Along with West Bedlington Town Councillor Victoria Thompson I met with Richard McKenzie, NCC Senior Programme Officer, to discuss problems on Windsor Gardens where uncontrolled parking has led to both road and pedestrian safety issues as well as creating access problems for emergency vehicles. After consulting with residents, Richard’s view is that for a trial period of 6 months the road should be double yellow lined: ie no parking, from the Front Street to the junction where Windsor Gardens loops back to re-join the main thoroughfare. This will create an opportunity to evaluate the impact on parking elsewhere in the area. If it simply moves the problem further down Windsor Gardens and beyond NCC will again consult over the introduction of a Resident Parking Scheme. I would welcome views on this via the email address below and I will also be in direct contact with the residents involved. I have asked NCC to investigate opening the Car Park behind the Council Offices for public use as at least a temporary measure. This will alleviate some the parking problems in the town centre and allow easier access to venues on the south side of the Front Street such as the Community Centre and Trinity Church. I have also requested that NCC review the crossing at the Old Police Station by the roundabout at the west end of the Front Street – it is at best tired and needs updating. Officials from St Bede’s Church and parents escorting young children to local schools have expressed concern at the frequent ‘near misses’ that occur at the crossing. I am particularly keen to hear residents’ views on all of the above. Please contact me at: [email protected] or drop into my Surgery at 6.30 next Thursday, 4 July, in the Community Centre.
Thanks for reading.
By Russ Wallace
In a meeting with Cllr Richard Dodd, Conservative Business Chair of NCC, Bill Crosby and I raised the issue of Bedlington’s position in the Local Area Council set up, as large parts of Bedlington are part of one LAC and most of Bedlington Station part of another. Richard was sympathetic and promised a review early next year. This may lead to something or nothing but we are determined to pursue the issue. Furthermore, I recently attended an East Bedlington Parish Council meeting as an interested observer and I was pleased that the Council agreed that Sleekburn is part of Bedlington and as such should be included with the rest of the town.
The main item of the recent Full Council Meeting involved the Core Strategy recently submitted to the Secretary of State for approval. Debate centred on the need to reduce the amount of new house builds contained in the submitted document and how this would be best achieved – either by modifying the existing document or by withdrawing it prior to resubmission. After voting in favour of a defeated motion to delay the decision to allow further consultation, I voted in favour of withdrawing the Strategy to allow it to be modified. My reasons for this were:
excessive house building across the County is an issue for many communities and it was easily the number one concern expressed by residents during campaigning even though a delay might prolong the current free-for-all among builders, it is important for the future as a whole to take the time and get it right I felt my decision best reflected the views of Bedlington Central residents. Along with residents and County and Local Councillors, I recently met with Police Superintendent Andy Huddlestone and Inspector Trevor Oakley to discuss the recent crime issues in Bedlington. I was pleased with their agreement to fund increased PCSO presence in the town until some of the current issues have been resolved. In addition Andy and Trevor were very much of the view that the community has a crucial role in reducing both crime and anti social behaviour, highlighting the need for the Police, schools, families and the community to work together. Couldn’t agree more. It is our community and we all have a role to play in making our town the best it can be. Should we all be thinking about possible monitoring schemes such as Neighbourhood Watch? – “interested” neighbours are invaluable in alerting authorities to antisocial activities!
As a standing item at the West Bedlington Town Council meeting, fellow Councillors Bill Crosby and Malcolm Robinson and I each give a verbal report to members on our recent activity. I believe this is an excellent example of good practice and fits in with our commitment both to work closely with our local Town and Parish Councils and to improve our communication with residents.
As reported on local social media Facebook pages, a highly encouraging meeting took place last Friday (14 July) involving local Town and County Councillors and representatives of ARCH to discuss the Tesco site development. I gave a commitment not to comment on the content of the meeting as there is much behind the scenes work in progress – however I eagerly await the imminent ARCH announcement.
By Russ Wallace
Before moving to the more political, a big thank you to those behind the Bedlington Picnic held yesterday, Saturday 1 July.
It was an outstanding event, superbly organised and supported by a huge number of Bedlingtonians. Vic Thomson deserves a medal for her efforts – but she was incredibly well supported by Daniel Wilkinson, Colin Patterson from Station Entertainments, Mayor Chris Taylor and the rest of West Bedlington Town Council, Allison Healy, Dave Johnson and Brian Sykes, to name just a few. Great day, thank you – and roll on Bedlington Picnic 2018!
My last blog was entitled “Accentuate the Positive” and introduced “The Bedlington Show” as a way of showcasing the good things about our town. The first show was intended as a taster to highlight some of the people behind the positive aspects of Bedlington.
I’m a tad overwhelmed by the response! Firstly by the positive comments from those who have listened to the show – I’m very much aware I’m no Chris Evans – but even more so by those happy to become involved in promoting our town. As a result there is another (at least one!) taster show currently in production. Keep you posted.
Down to business!
Like many, I am very concerned by the increase in crime in Bedlington over the last few weeks. Vandalism, threatening behaviour, robbery, car damage and arson have no place in our town. With that in mind, the announcement that the Bedlington Police Station Front Desk is to close overnight, is at best an own goal!
Fellow Town and County Councillors, along with community group members have been in dialogue with the Police and will be formally meeting with officers in the near future in order to express residents’ concerns and hopefully bring improvements to the current situation.
My interpretation of conversations so far is that the Police are as frustrated and concerned as we are, but remain hamstrung by the financial constraints under which they have to operate.
In the last week I attended two meetings that are worth highlighting.
The first meeting of the ‘Family and Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee’ took place at County Hall. Due to its direct link in dealing with children and educational issues I am delighted to serve on this group. What pleased me most was the complete lack of politicking and point scoring which is part and parcel of so many meetings. All members, Tory, Labour and me, as the single Independent, were completely focussed on matters in hand. The result was a highly productive and constructive meeting.
This week also saw the first meeting of our Local Area Committee. The agenda in truth was not contentious and once the meeting was underway it was completed quickly and efficiently.
The beginning of the meeting was thought provoking. A Labour member began by expressing concern over the value of such a committee, citing previous style groups as being less than effective. Malcolm Robinson got his hand up first to express our disappointment and disagreement at that point of view.
It was good to see so many Bedlingtonians present in the audience. They far outweighed any other group. They led the open session with a series of pertinent and focussed questions to committee members. The answers given to questions were full wherever possible and a promise of a prompt personal response given when they could not be answered there and then.
I was therefore disappointed to then read on a local Facebook page that all one audience member decided to refer to the committee’s ‘snazzy Tory name’ rather than praise, or even mention, the full and positive responses received to his questions.
There is a full Council Meeting on Wednesday. The agenda shows changes made to other Local Area Committee boundaries but confirms there are no changes affecting Bedlington. Disappointing, as this means the town remains split in two when local decisions are being made. Although I support the Local Area Committee principle and will do all I can to ensure its success, I cannot in all conscience vote in favour of something that splits my town in two!
Thank you for reading.
By Russ Wallace
Bedlington has been my hometown for over 40 years. During this time it has changed enormously – not always necessarily for the better – but there is nowhere else I would rather live.
I have always been aware that Bedlington has many positive features, eg a fabulous, tree lined, Front Street and stunning walks along the river at Humford.
However we regularly hear of what we do not have and what we need – and I agree with many Bedlingtonians over this – but what is often played down and disregarded are the numerous good things about our town
In order to ‘accentuate the positive’ Radio Northumberland, a local community radio station, has agreed to broadcast ‘The Bedlington Show.’ This is a non-political, one hour show which highlights some of the many positive aspects of our town – and the people behind them – through music.
The first show is currently being broadcast at:
5.00 pm Friday 30 June
3.00 pm Saturday 1 July
9.00 am Sunday 2 July
10.00 am Monday 3 July
7.00 pm Tuesday 4 July
10.00 am Wednesday 5 July
You can tune in at Radio Northumberland by clicking one of the carriers at the bottom of the home page.
If you can, please listen in – and find out who is included in show one and discover their choice of music!
The presenter is working on his skills – but would very much welcome feedback and, hopefully positive, suggestions.
Normal ‘blog’ service will resume shortly, thanks for reading!