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Northern Pride has been growing in strength since it began 10 years ago. Northumberland County Council is proud to be part of the movement, helping to break down barriers and creating a more open dialogue with members of the LGBT community.    Northern Pride took place on Newcastle Town Moor from 21st to 23rd July and Northumberland County Council was there to show support for the LGBT community. Along with flying the rainbow flag at County Hall, members of the County Council took part in the Pride parade and also held a joint stall during the weekend’s event along with colleagues from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.    Northumberland County Council is committed to building relationships with the LGBT community. Working in partnership with local and national groups, a ‘toolkit’ has been developed to help the growing number of schools who are supporting young people who question their assigned gender identity.    Northumberland County Councillor Veronica Jones, cabinet member for Adult Wellbeing and Health, said: “Northumberland County Council is a keen supporter of Northern Pride and undertakes a range of activities to support and work with the LGBT community. Through Northern Pride we can engage directly with members of the LGBT community and showcase our services.    “Our work to increase engagement and support for the LGBT community builds upon our involvement with Northern Pride and includes: our work with schools, creating a safe working environment and supporting our LGBT staff, engaging with young people and the wider LGBT community. We also aim to increase the diversity of our workforce by providing information on our apprenticeship opportunities,  jobs and careers  at our Pride stall”

The launch of new identity cards for people with brain injuries comes as welcome relief for survivors in the North East.
His Royal Highness Prince Harry has launched the new initiative by Headway, a charity that supports people affected by brain injury.
The card is part of the charity’s Justice Project, which aims to raise awareness of brain injury within the criminal justice system, and ensure survivors are identified at the earliest possible opportunity to ensure they receive appropriate support.
The ID card has the additional benefit of breaking down social exclusion, with holders having renewed confidence in the knowledge they can easily explain their support needs should they require assistance in everyday situations.
Charles Southam, 28, from Bedlington, who receives support from local group Headway Tyneside, is grateful for the idea.
He said: “Brain injury is often a hidden disability and people struggle to understand that service users have anything wrong with them because they look so ‘normal’.

A man has been charged following a spate of thefts in the Blyth area. 
Since June 1 this year 40 thefts from vehicles have been reported in Blyth, mainly within the Crofton Grange and South Shore estates. The majority of the offending took place overnight during a weekend.
A full investigation was launched by the Blyth Neighbourhood Police team and more than 20 hours of CCTV footage was reviewed by officers.
Now police have charged Dylan Woods, 20, of Barnard Street Blyth with five counts of theft from a motor vehicle.
Woods appeared before magistrates in Bedlington and is now remanded in custody until a further court hearing later this month.
Another male, age 16, was arrested and released under investigation.
Neighbourhood Sergeant for Blyth, Jonny Pallace, said: "We take burglary very seriously in Northumbria and we hope local people feel reassured by the swift response to the incidents reported to us recently. High visibility crime prevention patrols were put in place as soon as we saw the pattern of offending.
"However, local residents can take preventative measures themselves. Of the 40 thefts from vehicle crimes reported to us, 35 were due to the vehicles being unlocked. Our advice is simple: lock your vehicles, look after your property and always report anyone suspicious you see hanging around streets and neighbourhoods. You could be helping stop thefts from happening and helping us keep our communities safe. We'd also encourage anyone who hasn't reported a crime of this nature in the area to come forward - we will follow up and take action."
Anyone who has information about the incidents in Crofton Grange and South Shore estates should call officers on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The search is on for magical creatures living underneath Ashington.
The Wonderfolk are rumoured to exist along the abandoned coal seams under Woodhorn Colliery.
But now a team of experts are set to find the elusive beings and bring their stories to life.
Anyone can join them on an interactive trail lasting all summer.
Visitors will meet Professor Parkyr, a world expert in unexplained underground life forms, and with the help of a magical miner’s lamp will go on a special mission to track down and uncover the stories and secrets of the Wonderfolk.
The search for Woodhorn’s alternative and magical past begins on Monday with the launch of an interactive tour.

An ambitious programme of extra verge cutting has ensured that Northumberland is looking its best ahead of the main tourist season.

The county council drafted in extra resources ahead of the summer season, increasing the number of tractors with specialist cutting equipment and aiming to carry out additional grass cutting along highway verges across the county.

Progress has been swift, with 96% of all scheduled cuts completed, with the remaining scheduled verge cutting done before the end of July.

This is a significant improvement on last year’s performance. At the same time in July 2016 only 16% of scheduled cuts had been done and it was October before all the cuts had been completed.

The work is vital  to ensure that vegetation does not restrict visibility for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. In addition to the road safety benefits, these works also improve the look of an area and keeps the network in better condition by preventing plants taking hold on the side of roads.

The improvement will now also allow the teams time to return and undertake a second cut at key junctions, leading to further improvements in road safety.

There are a small number of verges that have been left intentionally uncut at the request of ecology groups to maintain flower-rich habitats in specific areas of interest and these will be cut later in the season.

Councillor Glen Sanderson, Cabinet Member for Environment and Local Services, said: “I’m delighted at the progress we’ve made so far, which improves road safety and has the added benefit of helping make the county look really neat, tidy and well maintained.

“One of our priorities is to improve the condition of the road network and invest in improvements that benefit everyone. This is a great example of where the council has identified a quick win that will bring longer term benefits.

“We’ve taken immediate steps to focus on verge cutting and extra weeding to ensure Northumberland is looking its best ahead of the main tourist season.

“I am very grateful to all staff for their great and much appreciated efforts in getting this work done so quickly and efficiently.”  

A former Alnwick school site being vacated this summer will continue to be used by the community, Northumberland County Council has confirmed.

The council is reassuring local sports clubs that the sports centre on the old Lindisfarne Middle School site will continue to operate, after concerns were raised earlier this year that the hall was set to be demolished.

The playing fields will also continue to be used by the local community.

Meanwhile the council’s Learning and Skills Service, which provides adult learning  opportunities in Alnwick to around 700 local people, is to move into the school building over the summer when it is vacated, with a view to expanding the range of services they can offer from September.

The pupils themselves will be moving to the two-tier site at Duchess’s Community High School from the start of the new term.

Alnwick Councillor Gordon Castle had raised concerns over the future of the site and said he was pleased both sporting facilities and adult learning were now going to be maintained.

Cllr Castle said: "This is a really good example of community empowerment and effective collaboration between council departments and local residents.

“I'm really hopeful that we can look forward to a very effective community operation here, including sports, leisure and adult education.

“Residents of Lindisfarne Road can be assured that we intend to increase provision of on site parking to ensure that are not adversely affected by more cars parked in their street."

The new prospectus of learning will be delivered to households starting from 21st August, but will be available online at www.northumberland.gov.uk/adultlearning from the end of July.

A record breaking 1,797 UK parks and green spaces have this year won a prestigious Green Flag Award including 45 in the North East.
This international award, now into its third decade claims that those parks which win “boast the highest possible environmental standards, are beautifully maintained and have excellent visitor facilities” - in other words they’re a great place for a day out.
Here we list a selection of the region’s top parks and public spaces you might want to check out for yourself.
Jesmond Dene is a beautiful wooded valley and for families there is the ever popular Pets’ Corner and there are many historical features in the park.
Walker Park dates back to 1891 and was designed to provide a pleasant green space for the local people living in a large industrial area.
Saltwell Park, known as The People’s Park, opened to the public in 1876 and still attracts around two million. Between 2000 and 2005, a £9.7 million grant resulted in the park being renovated and the results were hugely impressive.

Northumberland has some of the best parks in Britain – and that’s official.

Parks in Bedlington, Berwick, Blyth, Cramlington, Hexham and Morpeth together with the country parks at Plessey Woods near Bedlington and Bolam Lake near Belsay, have all been awarded prestigious Green Flag Awards by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy.

Northumberland’s winning green spaces are Ridley Park, Doctor Pit Park, Alexandra Park, Hexham Parks, Carlisle Park, Castle Vale and Coronation Parks, Plessey Woods Country Park and Bolam Lake Country Park, all part of a great tally of  award-winning parks and green spaces in 2017.

The award, now into its third decade, recognises and rewards the best parks and green spaces across the country. A green flag flying overhead is a sign to the public that the space boasts the highest possible standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent facilities.

Councillor Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for local services at Northumberland County Council said: “We are absolutely delighted that so many of our parks have achieved Green Flag Awards from Keep Britain Tidy.

“They highlight and recognise that residents and visitors are benefitting from green spaces of the very highest quality.

“We are extremely grateful for the support and commitment of local people, parks users, friends groups, town and parish councils, volunteers and our own staff, who help to keep parks vibrant and extremely well-used.  Everyone involved can be very proud.”

International Green Flag Award scheme manager Paul Todd said: “We are delighted to be celebrating another record-breaking year for the Green Flag Award scheme.  

“Each flag is a celebration of the thousands of staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to maintain the high standards demanded by the Green Flag Award. The success of the scheme, especially in these challenging times, demonstrates just how much parks matter to people.”

Entries for the Green Flag Award are open to parks and green spaces located in the UK. Applications are judged against a set of eight key criteria including conservation and heritage, community involvement and sustainability.

More about the Northumberland Green Flag parks:

Alexandra Park, Cramlington:

Alexandra Park is located in the town of Cramlington in South East Northumberland. The Park was developed in the 1970s to provide recreational opportunities for the expanding population of the new town.

The layout is modern with large areas of amenity open space housing football pitches, a bowling green, pavilion, play areas, multi use games area and a skate park. The park also affords informal recreational opportunities as the park has excellent off road links with surrounding areas through a network of footpaths and cycleways.

The judges described the Park as a facility used by a wide range of the local community and is a credit to all involved. They were particularly impressed by the wildflower planting schemes which were implemented by Cramlington Town Council working in partnership with the Neighbourhood Services team of Northumberland County Council

Bolam Lake Country Park, near Belsay

Bolam Lake is situated 9 miles west of Morpeth and 2.5 miles north of Belsay located just off the A696

The park has around 100 acres of woodland, amenity grassland and 25 acres is the lake itself which affords stunning views as you walk around.  The wildlife is abundant and home to red squirrels, deer, mute swans and many woodland birds including the nuthatch

There are lovely walks for all the family and many generations have visited with the ever popular activity of feeding the ducks and swans.  

Last year saw the 200th year since the lake was started by John Dobson and many activities took place to celebrate including a full programme of free events for families and talks for all.  The park is supported by an active Friends of Bolam Lake group who were thrilled to hear yet again the park had achieved this award

Carlisle Park, Morpeth:

Carlisle Park is a multi-award winning park in the heart of Morpeth. Situated on the south bank of the River Wansbeck, it contains The William Turner Garden, formal gardens, an aviary, play areas, a paddling pool, ancient woodland, picnic areas, toilets, tennis courts, bowling greens, a skate park, and much more.

A paddling pool and play area are run by Morpeth Town Council and are immensely popular, providing an excellent play space for children of all ages.  Visitors can also enjoy peaceful woodland walks, a promenade along the river, or find a vibrant array of colour and a peaceful oasis in the formal gardens and the William Turner Garden.

Doctor Pit Park, Bedlington:

Doctor Pit Park is situated in the heart of Bedlington.

Families are catered for with high quality play facilities, a multi-use games area and a small skate park.  There is a well maintained bowling green and bowls club which is based in the pavilion building.

The pavilion offers a community room, full kitchen and toilet facilities and is available for hire by groups or individuals.

The Green Flag award recognizes the development of the park as both a hub of community activity and a safe, clean and green area for the residents of Bedlington.

The pavilion is home to Doctor Pit Bowls Club, and Bedlington Art Group they all work closely with officers and staff of Neighbourhood Services to raise funds to improve the park, and to provide activities and events for the local community.

Hexham Parks:

Hexham Parks are the vibrant centre of the town and the hub of many of the public events, as well as being a beautiful attraction in their own right. They are well used and loved by locals and tourists and have been awarded the Green Flag for more than 10 years running.

Scenically set next to the Abbey, the herbaceous borders and bowling green area of Hexham House grounds with the sensory garden and the glade are peaceful places to relax.

The Sele has spectacular views across the Tyne Valley as well as the popular skate park and children’s play area; and the bandstand of the Abbey Grounds with the Edwardian gated entrances offers a great venue for picnics or putting.

The community groups that use the site and local partnerships who have worked with us on this year’s application are thrilled to once again be part of the Green Flag community.

Castle Vale and Coronation Parks, Berwick-upon-Tweed:

These beautiful parks sit on either side of the train station in Berwick upon Tweed and have recently been revitalised by £1million Parks for People funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery.  

Castle Vale Park contains a lily pond, picturesque shelters, rock gardens and spectacular views of the Royal Border bridge as it crosses the River Tweed.

Coronation Park, to the north of the train station, is England’s most northerly park and is a pocket sized delight containing stunning herbaceous borders, a wildflower meadow, a contemporary pergola and a traditional shelter which provide places to rest and enjoy the timeless view of the River Tweed.

The parks, known collectively as Castle Parks, have regular events and are supported by the dedicated work of many volunteers and the Friends of Castle Parks.

Plessey Woods Country Park, Hartford Bridge, Bedlington:

Plessey Woods Country Park is located near Hartford Bridge, off the A192, mid-way between Bedlington and Cramlington and about 5 miles south of Morpeth.

The Park offers 100 acres of woodland, meadow and riverside to explore. The woodland is home to many birds such as the great spotted woodpecker, nuthatch and tree creeper, as well as animals including red squirrel, roe deer and fox.

The banks of the River Blyth are also an important habitat for wildlife, such as kingfishers, dippers and otters.

People have come to Plessey Woods for generations to enjoy the woods and the river. Known locally as Bluebell Woods, the country park is an ideal place for a family day out with great opportunities for getting close to nature.

Ridley Park, Blyth:

Ridley Park provides a variety of recreational opportunities for the local community and visitors. It is popular throughout the year as a destination for all age groups.

The Park has well established formal gardens, wooded areas and secluded areas which prove popular with families and walkers who want to enjoy time out in the fresh air. It offers a range of sporting activities including tennis courts and bowls as well as children’s play opportunities with specially designed junior and toddler areas at the southern end of the site.

One of the unique features of the park is a water play area installed in 2005 which has proved a great attraction for both the local population and those travelling from other parts of the North East to visit. The water play area is open most days during the summer and is free to use (as are the majority of the activities offered in the park).

For those looking for refreshment while visiting the park there is a café offering food and drink throughout the year and during the summer an ice cream van is on site most days. A further summer attraction in the park are the small fairground rides which operate most days (a small charge is payable for these).

There are regular organised events during the year led by the Friends of Ridley Park and other community groups which are publicised locally and in press where entry is free.