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Malcolm Robinson

Councillor Robinson - December 2017

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December 2017.

Beginning of December and I got called into to work on the same day and time I had a Corporate Scrutiny meeting at NCC.   Damm these are the ones that get under the skin of NCC and I really like to go to them if for no other reason than to ask questions tinged with opprobrium.  Not to be and I had to send my apologies to the chair.

The NCC Strategic Planning meeting which normally takes place on the first Tuesday night of the month was cancelled so I got to go to the East Bedlington Parish Council meeting.  As usual an ‘interesting’ meeting if for no other reason than the members decided to amend the minutes!


The area manager for our local services had contacted me and suggested introducing the guy who has just taken over his role.  I agreed and said why not include everyone and WBTC so the meeting was set for next Friday at the WBTC office.


Just had the meeting with Tony Gibbin the new head of local services and I was the only one there?  Steven the WBTC clerk came in half way through so he met the new guy and naturally I got all my issues at the fore!


Looks like a very busy week next week again!


I was up at County Hall for 9.15am and it looks like mayhem out there with cars all over in the light snow we have had.  That meeting done I came back and drove all around the ward looking at the state of the roads.  Today is the last day for submitting another 3 proposals for the “Pothole Fund”.   I did find another 3 and have submitted stretches on the, B1331, Netherton Lane and Bishops Meadow.  Hopefully we will get these done too, so long may the members who don’t submit any suggestions continue!


We had the Town Centre redevelopment update off Arch I had asked for and after not getting the correct venue we all finally met at County Hall.  I can say it was a very positive meeting with some nice surprises!  As far as I can tell, and I did cross examine them, the Arch members have done as much as they can to prepare for the start of the scheme and once terms have been agreed officially then we will see ground being broken!  I would expect some further definitive news at the February public update!  We put out a joint statement telling the public basically everything was still on track and only just behind the original envisaged timeframe.


Here is the update I gave to WBTC tonight:


We heard at the last LAC several NCC councillors say they were not putting forward suggestions for the pothole fund.  That wasn’t their job?  Well I have driven all around my ward and had my 3 schemes accepted, 2 have since been completed and I have now submitted another 3 because there was such an underspend on that budget.   I think we use this to get the roads in my ward and its section in your parish as good as they can be.  So thanks to all those members who didn’t bother putting in suggestions! 


Most will have seen the statement Russ put out about the redevelopment across the road, basically for anyone who didn’t it’s a case of getting a signature on a single piece of paper then its all steam ahead.   Reassuringly the principle officers would seem to have everything prepared and in hand.  I am confident they have done that!  It may have taken some time but remember this is a pre-sold commercial development it’s not a speculative project and as such there are way many more i’s to dot and t’s to cross.  


Just to explain why it’s the February meeting for the update, I was in the chair and I tried to get it in at the December meeting in Bedlington but couldn’t and the January meeting is in Seaton Valley and everyone who was there didn’t want the Bedlington update held there for several reason so we rejigged the February meeting so we can have it then.  There was talk about the LTP being presented then too and I have made recommendations into that too based on feed back off residents.  


I have been asking questions about the propriety or lack of such in our redevelopment company, since the May elections as I said I would in my election literature.  Hopefully the conclusion to the police investigation isn’t too far away. 


Just to mention the last LAC, good to see us well represented as usual, again there have been calls to somehow curtail public involvement.  I can imagine where that has come from!  My reply was that if we want to engage with the public we have to give them a real stake in the meetings.  So please keep coming, keep asking your questions, don’t let anyone put you off! 

Good to see the Blyth and Tyne line, lead officer, actually giving a presentation because that could well have significant benefits to us… with say, for the sake of argument, if there was a new shopping centre here!  


Had a meeting with Tony Gribbin our new area manager for local services and had the meeting here so your clerk was introduced to him too. 


Can’t see anything in your correspondence so just to mention the NCC street lighting programme is about to start again with completion for Bedlington being planned for the summer period.


This month’s LAC was only planning and the one application we were going to hear, which is for a single house at Nedderton Village, has been reassessed as a delegated decision: so no meeting this month.


Hope most will have seen that the next full NCC council meeting will be televised and put out onto social media.  I have been working with our comms department and hopefully this is just one of a string of initiatives designed to give much more transparency and enable people to interact with NCC easier.   


Just been served notice of 11 new houses planned for the Blue House Farm area.


I have commissioned an architect to give options for the changing facility at the Westlea pitches.


Trying to work out the drainage or lack of it at the cemetery, pitches and Red Ash path.


As an update on the “Bethany” traffic control petition which was handed in at the last LAC by her mother, all members have now received the official criteria for speed cameras.  We can now make a decision based on knowledge and not a knee jerk reaction! 



Well the last half of the month saw me felled with the cold that’s doing the rounds this winter.  Having had it for over 2 months now it’s getting a bit wearing!


Still trying to arrange a site visit with our technical department and get the flooding issues at Westlea at least on an agenda!


I saw there was an update on the Devolution Deal we are now entering with Newcastle and North Tyneside and whilst I had been to several presentations about this devolution project, they we when it was 6 authorities, now there are just 3 it must be quite a different deal.   I therefore asked the business chair for additional information.  He agreed to ask the lead officers to give an update and I suggested my two Bedlington colleagues would probably like to have the update as well so the first time he saw us all he asked.  Naturally we all agreed and a meeting is scheduled for early in the New Year.  I will be asking about the costs, what devolved powers, governance, political input, value for money to local taxpayers and accountability.

I am at another bit of a loss about this one seeing as one of the leading opposition members quoted this devolution deal was the most undemocratic project he had ever seen.  Strange that because it was him and his fellow cohorts who actually put this together?  Why let facts get in the way of a good sound bite though!


Well it seems I am getting blamed for not allowing others into the Town Centre redevelopment update I asked for and we had at the beginning of this month and keeping people in the dark about it.  I have to say I do find this quite galling, if not obnoxious, especially coming off people who attempted to hold the Town to ransom, concerning this very subject, depending on the results of an election.  “Vote for us or you won’t get the Town redeveloped”……..that’s essentially a kind of blackmail!  Not only that but they refused to give anyone any updates what-so-ever and killed off the community led ‘focus group’ who had done such a good job of keeping people in the loop.  Hypocritical doesn’t even begin to come close.


I would just mention here though something I wrote in one of my election leaflets in answer to the accusation that voting for an independent candidate was a wasted vote:


“So, far from being a wasted vote, a vote for an independent candidate is actually a vote for positive change through hard work and effort, civic pride, ambitious Town development and openness and transparency.  It’s also a vote for probably the only candidate who can negotiate effectively on our behalf; the party political ones have shown they obviously can’t!”


If the electorate had returned the usual party members for Bedlington does anyone believe the current administration at County Hall would still be onside with the Bedlington development?  I think what I wrote last year for that leaflet has been born out to be the truth of the situation!   People can draw their own conclusions.


I have to say I am personally disappointed at the results of my current efforts to get some sort of idea about ambulance response times for this ward.  Since the RTA with the young school lad next to the COOP last year I have been asking for the ambulance response times.   People who were there have told me it took over 48 minutes to get the ambulance on site and I find that worrying given our proximity to the county A&E unit at Cramlington.

I have just been told by another constituent that his aged father-in-law tripped on his hard wood flooring and hurt his hip and leg.  He had just had a hip replacement so when it became apparent he was in acute pain and something was wrong they phoned for an ambulance.   3hrs 10 mins they waited for an ambulance and later found out the old guy had broken his leg in two places!  This is not good and provoked me into taking another route with my questions and concerns.  I have officially asked the cabinet member and business chair for the official ambulance response times for my ward and failing that I want them for every ward in the county!  Then we can see if our expectations match the reality!


Well the New Year is fast approaching and having finally gone to see the quack it will be a quiet one for me with my anti biotics and serious chest infection.


With a bit of time for reflection I do have to say I’m more than a little disappointed with the way NCC conducts its business.  Having a full council meeting every two months with very little chance to debate and question the likes of cabinet members, leaves very little room for democratic accountability.  It has produced what we can all see, a bank of opposition questions designed to embarrass and humiliate the administration for no other reason than political shibboleths.

I would rather see these full council meetings take place more regularly and our ability to get to the core of the subject much easier.  Allowing a very partisan cabinet to essentially make all the decisions is something which I think in the fullness of time will be seen as completely counterproductive.

Giving people portfolios just because they wear the right coloured tie is not the best way to run a raffle never mind a multi-million pound business.  We are seeing the last 4 years unravel because of that and the obvious danger is that the current politically driven administration fall into the same trap.  Must be a better way of doing things which could produce sustainability, continuation and countywide support and understanding.



Happy New Year………

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Well done, Malcolm! I don't know where you get the energy. For future reference: a cold never lasts more than a week. If you've still got any sort of symptoms after that get yourself to a doctor! Don't wait 2 months!

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