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  1. 3 points
    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! https://www.northumberland.gov.uk/News/2019/Jun/Council-to-declare-climate-emergency.aspx 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.
  2. 2 points
    Some photos shared by John Brown - along with the comment he posted on the Facebook group Bygone Bedlington :- John Brown The Acorn Bank opencast site at Bedlington around 1956. We called the dragline Big Bertha but it could have been anything really. It is amazing to think how many kids used to play around the site, climbing on the plant and getting rides in the Euclids which seemed to be as high as a house. Health & Safety what?
  3. 2 points
    I said I would write a thank you to the people who helped make the Commemorative Plaque at the West Lea Cemetery possible. Some might not know but West Lea Cemetery in Bedlington is a nationally recognised War Graves site and with this in mind I came up with this design for a commemorative plaque which could be attached to the entrance. With over 28 graves directly attributed to the second world war and many more annotations on family graves mainly attributed to the first world war it was time we saw a permanent memorial plaque. Taking my idea and design down to Mike Robertson and his innovative team at Barrington Metals they came up with an all metal plaque which exactly matched my expectations. After a whirlwind week it was produced and fitted in time for Remembrance Day. Thanks go to Tony and Stephen, NCC cemetery management, and also the CeO of NCC who I needed special permission off to pay for the project. I am especially grateful for the kind words and recommendations off so many people in our community when they have seen this new plaque. With a new Friends of West Lea Cemetery group I can only see this usually forgotten and neglected important local asset improve and become something we can all take pride in.
  4. 2 points
    I was challenged to explain S106 developer funding recently and I can now have a go. Pretty complex subject and to get it right here is the latest government guidance: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/planning-obligations Part of the question also related to what’s been achieved and what has it been spent on, in the last 3 years? I’m going to presume new house building which has been started, completed or planned for, is what this question is about. Obviously I can only comment specifically on the applications in my ward because I’ve spent quite a bit of time on them, usually onto NCC enforcement! Taking the 14 new houses on Netherton Lane, there was no S106 funding applied for! Inexcusable in my view but that was before I became the NCC elected member and it did have to go to a planning inspector to overturn the original refusal. Even the planning inspector raised eye brows and mentioned the fact that no S106 funding had been applied for. Onto the Broadoaks development now and again before my time but once again no S106 funding. Although only a Town Councillor at the time I did question this and the reason came back that adverse ground conditions mitigated the S106 funding. I made the argument that if that was the case then the community were paying for the work needed to overcome these adverse ground conditions seeing as no community funding was attached! Again inexcusable in my view! There were some ‘affordable homes’ within the development which I believe have been passed to Bernicia for affordable rents. I have a real problem with the term ‘affordable’ because in my view they aren’t for the vast majority of our young people and I have argued that point at several planning meetings! Now onto the proposed new housing on the land north of the Chesters. This has been at committee 3 times now and on each occasion I have voted against, one reason because of a lack of suitable S106 agreements. Again this scheme had been originally planned for before I became the NCC elected member but I now had the chance to sit on the committee and question it. In the first outing for this permission I saw the original £3.4M (I think!) allocation for education had been reduced to £1.3M and there was no allocation for Health. Even the Sport and recreation allocation had been agreed to go down to East Bedlington? This I challenged and managed to change so we saw a £346,500 allocation for health and West Bedlington are now included in the sports and recreation funding. ” 7.77 Objectors have raised concerns regarding increased pressure on local services and infrastructure. This matter is addressed through the Section 106 Agreement that runs alongside the outline planning permission with contributions secured for education (£1,331,000), primary healthcare (£346,500), off-site sport/recreation (£229,000) and the strategic highway network (up to £155,000).” The strategic highways contribution is going to a Highways England project at the Moorfarm roundabout at Cramlington? I did make the case that there were plenty of highways works needed around Bedlington but Highways England seem to be holding a gun to the head of Planners because in quite a lot of cases around the SE of the county this has become the norm and they will object unless its included? Maybe we should take a leaf out of their book! Having spoken to our local health and educational professionals it seems the education allocation is almost entirely going to Special educational needs and as we have little if any it will go to Guidepost. The health contributions off this and others are being rounded up and our health centre will get a share of that? How much I don’t know. At the second hearing I argued the point that the proposed development was actually outside our settlement boundary as well as the reduced S106 funding. The reply was that planners needed this development to show government an agreed land bank for new housing. This time I did manage to convince one other member to back my assertions and there were two objectors at committee this time. This week reserved matters came before committee and I had asked planners specifically to make this happen. The Town Council submitted objections and I wanted to examine the proposed site access. Again planning law has to be understood because ONLY matters in the application could be discussed and debated. This severely restricts what could be brought up because outline permission and detailed permission had already been agreed by majority vote. This was really only about site layout and reserved matters. There are some affordable units included…… “7.18 The level of affordable housing provision for this site has already been agreed as 15% under the terms of the Section 106 Agreement which runs alongside the outline planning permission.” After a lengthy and pretty protracted questioning session the application was agreed with only my vote against, citing the loss of the original £2M in the S106 agreement as the main reason! Immediately after the meeting I was told by a member of the public that he was shocked to see all the party political members voting for this apart from me after receiving a political leaflet saying I supported wholesale housing without adequate infrastructural funding. The opposite is actually the truth! The only other sizeable application I know of is the 16 houses opposite West Lea on Netherton Lane and again I believe no S106 funding has been attached? Although this never came in front of any planning committee once I was aware I did challenge the lack of S106 funding. I hope that answers the questions.
  5. 2 points
    Thanks, Vic, Pete and Alan! Those kind words mean a lot. Really, things are going remarkably well, all things considered. It's just that it seems to drag on and on with never ending rounds of hospitals and health centres but we're getting there slowly. Of course we have our down days but we have plenty of 'up days' as well and these are becoming more frequent now. Hope things are getting better for you and your wife Vic. This ageing thing is a beggar, the curse of the elderly.
  6. 2 points
    I was there on the nights those bands were on. Our group of lads were there four or five nights a week as we used to get free passes from the guy/manager that ran the place. Before it opened we would call into the building on a Sunday afternoon, after having been to the Station Club - 12:00 till 14:00 for a few pints on our way down to the Welfare Park for a game of footie among the lads, and chat with the manager to see when it would be the opening night. It was mainly Bob Pattison & Alan Maguire that chatted up the manager and other staff and were given the free passes. As they all became friends there were free passes for many months, especially for through the week. My main memory of Dave Dee ,Dozy,Mick,and Tich was that I was mistaken, by young ladies who had had a load to drink, as Dozy and they leapt on me, knocking me to the floor and ravaged me until some dragged them off and said - not Dozy, it's Eggy
  7. 1 point
    Hi Alan,I knew aal these lads to taak ti,but not their names,except No 2 Gordon Hickson..[definately!],and No 5,who I took for a fella caaled Billy Smith. Noo a wud gaan for the name ye have gotten from Malcom,cos he might have worked with him as a marra,I had Gordon Hickson on my Book,when I was a Deputy,and I paid his wages ,virtually,every day for about two years.Now the lad who a thought was Billy Smith,must be the double of Billy,cos what's making me think twice about this,is the Specs!...Billy didn't wear specs when he was on my books,and maybe aad age is catching up wi me memory! Ye knaa wat it's like when ya absoloutely sure,then doubt creeps in..... Cheers Alan! Bill.
  8. 1 point
    Alan,me post has went bold in places,and wasn't when a typed it oot! It looks as if a was trying to emphasise a point or two...not my intention at aal..just to let yi knaa,and Coatsy!! Cheers again!
  9. 1 point
    Hi Coatsy,and welcome to the forum,mate! Now a knaa nowt aboot football,or sport generally,but aa have had the same trouble even just trying ti find photo's of the Choppington High Pit,cos the photo on thi Info board at the entrance ti thi pit isn't the High Pit at aal! Somebody musta dug a picture of any old pit from somwhere else,ti stick on the board,just ti let visitor see what a pit looked from the top of the pit heap..or the cage wheels or whatever..there is no info to be found other than what we have on this forum,in the gallery,such as my own Father as a laddie in 1929-ish,and pictures of the houses lining the pit road. Thi photo of the Miners underground is genuine,cos aa worked with aal the men on that photo,at some time or another,when I was a young Girder lad. What I do know is that the Dreyer Family,Dor Dreyer,Freddie Dreyer,and their Fathers before them,aal played Cricket,for Choppington,and Bomarsund,Stakeford. Just wildly guessing , mind,but a lot of lads that I knew who played one sport,also excelled in others. Would a delve into the Dreyer Family's Ancestor's mebbe lead to a link with the Football club? The High Pit musta been just a tax fiddle for the Coal-owners,cos it was hidden away from sight owa the fields,and was just a wriggly tin shed set-up...with no Real investment outlay on the surface buildings,OR the underground set-up..Dangerous hell-hole altogether,so it appears no-one wanted to visit to take pics...no records of production broken,except for Joe Barratt during the war years..[another story],and no newspaper articles that I can find....just a forgotten shack of a pit...and Old Ned Cushing [the training Officer who knew my Father....in 1929!!]...said to me on the first day there,starting in the winter of 1959...."It's a canny,friendly little pit Wilma,and a think ye'll get on weel!....." Whey it was friendly aal reet,sum real nice Choppington folk,my home village when very young,but the pit was owt but canny!! Hope ye find what ya efta Coatsy!!! Best O' luck,Marra! Cheers,Bill.
  10. 1 point
    My nan and grandad were called graves olive and john who lived in shiney row my grandad worked at the doctor pit all his life unfortunately he died with cancer when i was 15. Our family moved from Barrington to stoke on trent when i was 8 my aunty Christine lives in Ashington.
  11. 1 point
    I have uncovered a note belonging to my Grandmother which gives directions to a relative of hers Mrs Thompson living in 11 South Row. It also mentions Thompsons Store. Does anybody have information on this?
  12. 1 point
    Thompson Store was opposite North Terrace. My Gran used to live in North Terrace and I used to go there with my mam in the 50's to do our shopping. When we moved to Australia in 1960 we used to phone the store and leave messages for my gran when she came in.
  13. 1 point
    @BJT - There was South Row at Bedlington Station, next to the Bedlington 'A' pit, and a New South Row at the Top End of Bedlington next to the Doctor pit. The Doctor pit, and colliery rows, were at the bottom of the Glebe Bank and on the opposite side of the road there was Thompsons store. I can’t remember the store but I have seen many references to it and I believe it was opposite Doctor Terrace and there is now a car dealers, Cars4U North East Limited, in it's place . The photo of Thompsons shop is taken from one of Evan Martin's books on Bedlington. This is an extract from a 1924 map showing the South Row, next to the 'A' pit, at Bedlington Station. Can't remember anyone ever mentioning there was a Thompsons Store at Bedlington Station
  14. ‘Bringing beds and business to Bedlington’ is the aim of two businessmen who are planning to open a hotel in the town, creating 45 jobs in the process.


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