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Malcolm Robinson

Councillor Robinson - October 2019

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October 2019.


October and after a short break straight back into it.  Being a Thomas Cook customer on top of everything else is sending the house into meltdown!

Having had to cancel my surgery because of a change in travel plans I now have several home visits to do.

First one in the Chesters.  After a nice chat and seeing first-hand what the problems were it was then a quick trip up to Netherton Village for another home visit. This one will be more problematical but given some of the meetings I have this week I should be able to get this mentioned during them.

Along with Russ and Bill I had a meeting with the local police team today but it had to be cancelled at the last minute. I had some constituency concerns to address so I insisted on a private meeting with them anyway. Lots of food for thought with this one and I’m afraid more questions than answers, which wasn’t really the fault of the local cops its just the complexity of the issues.

I have been trying to get a meeting with the NCC leadership for some time and received a message off the secretary saying if I could make lunchtime today they were all in one place at the same time! I went up and waited in the secretary’s office!

We had what I would consider a positive meeting and one I expect results to flow from! I put my positions forcefully and had agreement in the end.  There were several topics covered, each with their own nuances but in I think we worked out a strategy for each.




Once home I had a quick cuppa then it was off to a meeting at Gallagher Park. This one was with the Barnesbury Cycling Club as they try to get funding pulled together for a renewed BMX track. The other independent councillors, EBPC and WBTC had met earlier in the week with them and most had pledged some funding to support their ambitious plans. I had already shown them how to apply for one funding source and they have been successful with that one.

Strangely only EBPC and the Labour councillor for the Sleekburn ward have refused their plea for funding help. Seeing as they need to match fund a generous Sports England grant it was a no brainer for me because helping them reach half the amount unlocks so much more and improves the offer down there for all our young people, I just wish I could have offered more.




Again once home a quick cuppa then out for a WBTC meeting. During my update for them I told them about the Halloween event in Plessey Woods and the event aimed at our youngsters for next February.  I have even arranged for shelters for the seating area for the February one, just in case. Part of the challenge I was given when I got the money for the new play park down in Plessey Woods was to increase visitor numbers and I know how much extra its being used now and given we are using it for extra events as well even these numbers can only increase in the short term.  I also know there is another event for which a funding bid has been worked on and submitted.




Just had an audit committee meeting for Advance and good to hear the new governance and polices which we have been putting in place for the new company is starting to have the desired effect. I did have several questions for the external auditor which were answered in their entirety.  We were also given reports by internal audit and again very helpful as we transform the company.


Been up to see a couple of my constituents who are both reporting problem with roads and paths within the ward.  For some reason NCC have been out and marked the bad bits of roads but have never completed? In fact its been that long the marker paint has eroded off both. Why NCC fail to keep residents informed is beyond me and seems to me to be a prime requirement for any ‘business’.  I think a question at full council is called for because I have had many such issues!

Another likewise problem is with trees situated in our housing estates. Seems to me at some point in the past we have planted the wrong type of trees and they are now mature enough to cause real problems for residents.  The pretty rows of nice looking plantings the developers left as they moved out of the estates are now pushing up paths and pavements, undermining foundations, touching roofs and blocking reception and making some paths unusable. Forward planning at its best!



Given the amount of contact I have been having concerning these problems I will do a spreadsheet to list the item, concern and any actions forthcoming.  Thats the only way I can think of to keep on top of this seeing as some have been listed for action but in fact nothing has been done since the problem was reported.


Had to attend an internal audit for Advance and nice to hear things seem to be changing.  We did ask for a more contemporary update taking into account the changes which we have put in over the last few months to measure their performance.  That was agreed and I hope it shows the huge change in corporate governance we have put thorough recently.  No more “Arch” type shenanigans!


Had another Friends of West Lea Cemetery meeting tonight and I hope there are some actions forthcoming.  Plenty spoken about so getting them seen to is the way forward now.  Pleased the ‘spoil’ heap has been moved!




Local Area Council or LAC meeting tonight but it was just for planning matters. In fact there was only one item on the agenda, the new play area for WBTC.  Christine the Mayor gave a presentation about the project and we heard the response off the legal consultees.  One really surprised me.  It was off public protection and made mention of a noise assessment and secondly went on about floodlighting the area? I said I was bemused by this seeing as floodlighting wasn’t even in the application so by planning standards we shouldn’t even be able to consider it, but I wanted to know exactly what the noise assessment was about.  Are we really going to measure the cheerful noises off children playing in the new park? Seems it was more about the noise off the new equipment so I made sure that was listed as the sole reason for the noise assessment!  It was only in front of us because NCC own the land and it went through unanimously.


There was a Locality event on in the Community Centre today and I had tried to promote it as much as I could.  This will lead to a directory of local voluntary groups etc and should show people exactly what’s going on in the Town and environs. There was a good turn out and I hope it all gets listed. A directory of local groups would make my job of telling them where funding is available much easier so we get as much inward investment into the voluntary sector here as possible.


Fire fighters pension board meeting today and as usual a whole swathe of papers to go through. In fact I suggested doing this in bite sized chunks might be advisable so we have doubled the amount of meetings.  So much to consider and much of it very technical in nature.  Having shorter meetings but more often would make it much easier to keep on top of.


Just had a meeting with highways technical after residents got in touch to complain about their estate road. He agreed their road is needing quite significant works done but that has to go into the LTP for consideration and budgeting.  He did promised remedial action on the worst bits would be done ASAP though.


I had a meeting with NCC about my sports project this morning and after discussing the best way forward it was agreed to ask for the feasibility funding as a first step. That is now proceeding! Its taken 2 years to get to this stage!


On my way home I called in to report back to a resident about the concerns she had been onto me about and whilst they are going to be addressed I couldn’t tell her exactly when.  That depends on budget pressures but if not this financial year then certainly next.

I then had to call in to see a Development Trust member because they have agreed to fund an item for another voluntary group.

Next up a visit to the manufacturer for the memorial plaque I have commissioned for the West Lea Cemetery to make sure that’s still on track.

With all that done I could then get on with my own stuff for work this weekend.


I had a meeting with WBTC and NCC Cemetery’s about West Lea Cemetery.  Good positive meeting and the new Friends of Group is a welcome addition according to NCC officers!  Plenty to get on with and agreement on most.


Advance Board meeting this afternoon and again quite a lengthy meeting. We recapped the new strategic strategy we have put in place for the group and explained what the internal audit had said.

The Chair had to pull my horns in when I spoke about Bedlington but apart from that the company is being turned around slowly but surely and with a large new project in Blyth…… Ahem Mr Chair that will be Cambois or Bedlingtonshire, its our side of the river, not to be parochial of course! Still lots to do but at every meeting we see a whole swathe of new governance and policies put in place.  


I hope we soon see some business help put in place in Bedlington and help the businesses we have as well as help anyone thinking about starting one.

Just heard thats coming this month!  




All member Climate Change meeting tonight and a decent turn out of councillors for once.  We heard two presentations about the problems and what NCC intend to do about them. The projects are aimed at making us carbon neutral in about 10 years.

There were some pretty impressive facts and figures quoted and at the end we did have a chance to ask questions.

I asked about how much of our current energy usage is delivered by renewables, given the trends we see in vehicle production and the fact that gas supplies into new houses is to be ended in the near future are we reasonably able to take all that extra usage and still be carbon neutral by the anticipated date and lastly do we assess carbon footpaths into our calculations given things like battery usages.  Seems we are just over the 50% in renewables at present and if we get all the subsidies and grants off central government etc we stand a good chance of achieving the outcome we want.  As for measuring the carbon footprint of all associated items the answer was no but the speaker did admit there are some pretty nasty ingredients in batteries which would skew any resulting calculations!

Trees and peat bogs were spoken about as a means of carbon capture with a large investment going into tree planting in urban areas. Keilder was mentioned and I asked if broad leave or pine trees were better at carbon capture.  Broad leaf trees are much better but to me that means decades of growth before they reach their potential.  One item which did prick my ears up was the hydro power generation which is being looked at.  I think we have a reasonable possibility for that using the tidal estuary on our river.  In fact I have just wrote in and suggested looking at the possibility of using modern designed hydro units to generate power for Bedlington!

Maybe the old Iron Works could still yet give us an insight into using water to provide power for Bedlington!



Whatever happens change is coming and I want Bedlington into the forefront of any possible investment.


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