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Andy Millne

The Friends of Gallagher Park have secured funding totalling almost £70,000 towards a regional standard competition BMX track. The good news was received from the Lottery Greener Spaces Award that a bid of almost £50,000 has been successful and work on construction of the facility at Gallagher Park, Bedlington can commence in May 2010. With local County Councillors Val Tyler and Jeff Gobin supporting the scheme with £10,000 each from their small grant budget, the funding will bring a much needed recreational facility to the people of Bedlington. George Webster, Chairman of the group, said: "I'm extremely happy our hard work and determination to see this project through has eventually yielded some funding. I'm looking forward to this first step to improve the park and help breathe new life into this green community space."
PC McIntosh, Neighbourhood Beat Manager for Bedlington Station and Cambois who has supported the group in it's quest for improved facilities since 2008 said: "It's a massive boost for the local youngsters and the people who have supported the building of this facility. Gallagher Park is an ideal location to host this type of community facility which will go a long way in addressing what the youngsters have been asking for and give them somewhere to congregate away from the shopping area."
The friends are already planning other additional facilities at the park and with the SusTrans Connect 2 cycle path, which links Ashington to Cramlington, set to run through the park it is hoped that it will allow people from other parts of Northumberland to easily access the facilities.
The Barnesbury Cycling Club, which recently qualified as a British Cycling Go Ride club, plan to start fortnightly coaching sessions for children at the park. Chris Gray from the club said: "I hope our children's Saturday afternoon off road coaching sessions will help develop a new generation of cyclist for our club from the local area. We will be developing these sessions throughout 2010 and hope to identify anyone interested in working towards a BMX coaching qualification to enable the club to use the new facility and coach children on a regular basis. With the sport featuring in the 2012 Olympics, it is hoped that Bedlington can capitalise on the interest and publicity generated by British Cycling through a range of activities and initiatives planned for the coming months."
Visit the community forums to view the plans and join the discussion.
Anyone interested in either attending coaching sessions or working towards a BMX coaching qualification can contact Chris on [email protected] Anyone interested in helping to develop the park is urged to contact the Friends of Gallagher Park at [email protected]

New assistance for those on benefits or looking for work arrives in Bedlington this week with the opening of a Community Help Hub at 30 Front Street West, just across the road from the Lion Petrol Station. The Help Hub, an initiative of County Church Wansbeck, will offer free telephone access to 0870, 0845 and 0800 numbers and free internet access to those seeking to apply for jobs or benefits.
The Church, which does not have a building of its own and meets each Sunday in Bedlington Community Centre at 11 am, has taken on the rental of an empty shop across the road from where it meets, and hopes to use it for the good of the community.
"There are a number of people now who only have mobile phones, and no access to a landline", said Dennis Fancett, a leader of County Church. "It is really expensive to call these so called free and low cost numbers from mobiles, yet most statutory agencies including our very own County Council and most government helplines now insist these numbers are used should you wish to contact them. We believe the Help Hub will provide an answer to those who could not otherwise afford to do so. You can also use our internet service for job applications and to sort out benefits, again a boon for those with no internet at home or pay as you go only, or who may need to phone up for help whilst completing an internet form".
"We are convinced there is a real need for this service" he continued. "In fact, during the last few months, whilst we have been setting up the Help Hub, we've become aware of a very similar service now provided by statutory agencies for one day a week in each of Ashington, Blyth and Morpeth. This convinces us we are on the right track. Whilst obviously we look to work closely and compliment these other services, our focus is to offer something in Bedlington, a community that so often gets overlooked, and of course we will be open 3 days a week thanks to our staff who are mainly volunteers."
Church member Alan Rapley secured funding from Vodafone's World of Difference programme to enable him to work as a project co-ordinator for 2 months, helping in all the work needed to covert the empty shop and liasing with other agencies.
"I firmly believe that the services the Community Help Hub are offering are going to make a real difference to those in the Bedlington and wider Wansbeck area who are struggling financially and who need help to sort out their benefits or look for work." said Alan.
Over time, it is hoped the range of services that can be offered through the Help Hub can be expanded. "We have a large meeting room upstairs and seminars and advice on subjects such as parenting skills, writing a cv, money management and dealing with addictions are all under consideration said Dennis, though initially we just need to focus on the basic Help Hub service. The initial set up costs and ongoing running costs for the Help Hub are currently being met entirely through donations from Church members", he added.
The Help Hub opens Tuesday 16th March and normal opening times will be Tuesday to Thursday from 10 am to 4 pm. However, as it is staffed by volunteers, there may be some variations to these times during holiday periods. The Help Hub is open to all members of the public who wish to use its services.
Read what Bedlington.co.uk members think in the forums.

At a Northumberland County Council executive meeting this afternoon, March 8th, council were asked to support a submission for a new Academy School for Bedlington. Councillor Andrew Tebbutt agreed this support in principle but stated there was a need to consider any budgetary implications. Working group partners have been identified and it was agreed to support and move the project on.
An Academy is a school that is publicly funded with some private sponsorship but remains independent of local authority control. Since their introduction in 2000 they have been met with mixed reactions over their effectiveness.
Supporters of the schools point to benefits such as improved GCSE results and an increase in innovative and creative methods of solving local issues. Critics claim they are costly, ineffective and a ruse to enable the privatisation of the education system. They also regularly come under attack due to the pupil selection criteria they employ.
Speaking about the proposed Bedlington Academy, Councillor Reed said he hoped this initiative would address some of the underlying social problems parts of Bedlington experience, some of which are in the top 10% most deprived areas in the country.

By Blank, in News,

Two small businesses have been recognised as showing the true 'spirit of enterprise' after teaming up to help their respective interests grow. Lisa Walker, from Cambois, who provides children's pony rides with 19-year-old Shetland pony Smurf, and Gary Smith, from Bedlington, who hires bouncy castles under the name Mr Booncy, jointly took the title at the Wansbeck Business Awards.
The pair decided to pool their resources after realising they had a lot in common and they are now working together to expand their businesses.
Ms. Walker said: "We've really thought outside of the box to help each other's businesses.
"It's a strange sight seeing 6 feet 3 inch Gary with Smurf who is just 3 feet tall but the kids love the combination and it's been really good for our business."

By Neil, in News,

Bedlington Terriers are delighted to announce that they have signed ex-Jamaican International forward Trevor Benjamin.
Trevor has many former clubs, and they include: Cambridge United, Leicester City, Northampton Town, Coventry City, Peterborough United, Hereford United, Gainsborough Trinity and Kidsgrove Athletic.
Whilst representing Jamaica at full international level (debut in 2002), he also played for Englands Under 21 side in 2001.
Most recently Trevor was with Woking Town but since relocating to the region, Bedlington have been first to the post to get his prestigious signature. He will obviously be a great player to have at the club and his experience will prove invaluable.

By Blank, in News,

Work is set to start in February on major new improvements to the Northumberland Cycle Network. The first stage of the scheme will see the "˜Black Path' re-laid in tarmacadam with new lighting also being installed. The route through Gallagher Park will follow soon after with an expected start date in late March (See the attached plan for further details and proposed routes).
The project is being carried out by Sustrans in conjunction with Northumberland County Council. The Sustrans group aims to help people choose to travel in ways that benefit their health and the environment.
Brian Oliver, Chairman of Bedlington Forum, Said: "Speaking as someone who is heavily involved in most aspects of voluntary and community work, the addition of a dedicated cycle path through Bedlington can only go to enhance the progress we are currently making in our town through schemes such as the Townscape Heritage Initiative.
If we are lucky enough to get a footbridge built over the River Blyth at Humford Woods and along with it, the completion of a proposed dedicated path on to Cramlington, we will then have become part of a much bigger cycle network. Hopefully in time we will reap the benefits of having "˜cycle tourists' visit our area."
Aln Elliott, Senior Engineer at Northumberland County Council, Said: "There are many phases of cycleway construction to be carried out over the next three years and work will include working with the communities and schools in Bedlington to get their ideas for the project. It is hoped that the finished scheme will be of high quality and give people the opportunity to leave their cars at home and either walk or cycle more to local destinations."
A full programme of work will be published on Bedlington.co.uk early in the new year allowing you to give feedback and input to help steer the later stages of the scheme. Later work is set to link Bedlington with East Cramlington via Humford Woods and will be completed by mid 2013.

Following a succesful grant application of £20,000 by a community led group, A feasability study is now under way to address what is seen as a lack of youth and sporting provision in the town.
The closure of the Netherdale Venue in late 2007 prompted a lively debate at a Bedlington Forum meeting which led to the creation of a steering group made up of community members, school representatives, sporting representatives and county council officers to see if anything could be done to address the issue of dwindling community facilities in Bedlington. A brief was assembled and a bid was submitted by Bedlington Forum to Go Wansbeck for funding to enable a consultant to produce the required first step, a feasibility study.
The study is now set to evaluate the case for development on the site of Meadowdale County Middle School for an all weather flood lit football pitch with community and other sports facilities attached, as well as other potential facilities at Gallagher Park. Consultants Knight Kavanagh & Page will be carrying out the study and completion is expected early in the new year. The conclusion of the report will outline once and for all the facilities Bedlington can hope to obtain and support on a long term basis as well as plans to move the process forward.
Chairman of the steering group Mr Brian Oliver said," Whilst there were originally two very clear groups each promoting their own vision, we are now working very closely together to make sure we get a result for the Town, who knows what might come from this independent completed study".
Steering group community member Mr Malcolm Robinson said, "With the future of the current community centre in Bedlington being far from assured, we really have to have a successful conclusion and this report should point us in an achievable direction. There has been a lot of hard work just to get this far, taking almost two years, but we would not have come as far as we have without the help of Wansbeck CVS, Karen McLean the Regeneration Officer for Northumberland County Council and of course our sponsor Go Wansbeck".
The study comes at a critical time for Bedlington with community facilities under serious threat and further question marks looming over the future of Bedlington's libraries.
Bedlington.co.uk members have been discussing the news of the potential closures this week. Angejohnson said: "I feel strongly that people should be objecting on principle to losing resources such as community centres and libraries. As someone has pointed out maybe the CC is not the best run and if this was improved it would be much more of a hub for community activities."
Do you think the community centre has a future? What do you want to see new community facilities in the town offer? Have your say in the Community Forums or leave your comments below.

Two Bedlington students have started an online campaign to give a well respected local man the chance to turn on the Christmas lights.
Not wanting to be brushed off with a cliche Z-list celebrity event, Sian Darbyshire and Luke Charlton have taken it upon themselves to make sure a real local celebrity takes on the role.
"Tommy the Egg Man", as he is affectionately known, is regularly seen walking the streets and is known by almost everybody in the town.
Speaking on the specially formed Facebook group which now has over 350 450 600 1200 members, local resident Claire Bartie, said: "i think this is a brill idea tommy is lovely and always says hello ever since i was in middle school he always spoke to us all i defo vote for tommy!!!!!"
One of the groups creators, Sian Darbyshire, said: "I (and many others) feel this legend of a man deserves to turn the lights on in Bedlington. If Tommy does get the chance to turn the lights on because of this group we will all have made an old man very happy"
We caught up with Tommy on the street and asked him for comment. He very modestly played down his new found fame and instead wanted to chat about how the town's kids were a "great lot" who often received unnecessary criticism. He did agree to pose for a photo.
This years event promises to be an extra special affair following the completion of the Market Place regeneration scheme. The lights are due to be switched on at 5:30pm on Thursday 3rd December.
Do you think Tommy should switch on the lights this year? Join the Facebook group,, have your say on the online poll or leave your comments below.
Update: 30th November 2009, 3:10pm
We are pleased to be able to report that Tommy Will be switching the lights on this year. Congratulations to all involved!
Special thanks go to Northumberland County Council and this years event organisers Benet Enterprises. Set up by St Benet Biscop High School, Benet Enterprises aims to to encourage enterprise in young people. Without the understanding of these two groups and the performers themselves (Local student group EVENTUAL) none of this would be possible.

Following on from our previous article regarding the adjournment of the Bedlington Old School enquiry, a date has now been set for Tuesday, December 15th at 10am.
The public will not be allowed to speak at the meeting unless permission is sought before the event, however a public viewing gallery will be available for any residents wishing to observe.
Commenting on the proposed development, Bedlington.co.uk visitor Sarah, said: "Bedlington doesnt need more housing it needs more community spirit a youth club and some better shops. I have lived in Bedlington all my life and would like to see it go up in the world not down."

Details of Christmas events in Bedlington are starting to come through thick and fast with the Christmas lights switch on set for 5:30pm on Thursday 3rd December.
There have also been unconfirmed reports of live entertainment in the form of Sally Rivers and the Big Bash Band.
Perhaps most excitingly there will be a FREE ice rink including free skate hire on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th December!
Both live music and the ice rink proved to be popular choices in a recent poll in the Bedlington Community Discussion Forums.
There is also talk of a weatherproof bouncy castle called Blizzard Mountain too. More pricing information and dates to follow!
Know of any other events planned over the festive season? Perhaps you are hosting something yourself? Why not add them to the Community Calendar for all to see.

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