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Malcolm Robinson

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Malcolm Robinson last won the day on February 12

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About Malcolm Robinson

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  • Birthday 09/09/1956

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  1. List of the trees that were planted........... 5x Acer campestre5x Alnus cordata5x Crataegus laevigata Paul's Scarlet4x Malus tschonoskii6x Populus tremula5x Prunus padus5x Tilia tomentosa
  2. Its all for our youngsters Canny Lass. 😉 Talking to them they are more concerned than a lot of adults!
  3. Good to see our youngsters getting involved with the NCC tree planting initiative. On a very cold and windy day too!!!!!
  4. January 2020. Have to start over again after my computer went into melt down and it had to be overwritten. So Jan 2020 and it’s going to be quite a year! First Monday and I had a site visit at Hexham and Morpeth to get to. Hexham was the new School proposal and Morpeth was the Northgate development. Loads of questions about both with most answered at site. Today is the Strategic planning meeting hearing the applications we visited yesterday as well as others so it was always going to be an extended one! The School one at Hexham was pretty straightforward but there were as always ancillary concerns to address. Mine were to do with accessing the new site especially considering the new intake of pupils it will have. One suggestion was about a drop off and pick up point for parents who took their kids to school privately. This was dismissed by our head of planning, as was my suggestions about staggered start and finish times, but he did say it was a delicate balancing act. I took exception to that and said I had suggested the exact same for the new school at Morpeth, across the road, but had found out later we actually have a policy in place which stops any drop off and pick up points in schools. I asked how on earth it was a delicate balancing act when we had this policy in place? I suggested this was actually discriminating against parents who for whatever reason have decided their children are safer getting to school that way. This especially considering the access road which looks to be akin to the Kevi one at Morpeth. Having said all that and argued back and forth with the planners, in debate I said I was happy to endorse this application because the school children in Hexham, as in the rest of Northumberland, deserve the best facilities for learning we can give them and this would at least give first class facilities, as the head and chair of the board of governors had told us. I also had a bit to say about the design which I felt let the unique heritage of the Hexham Hydro building down, as I said it looks like you are allowing a series of concrete Lego blocks to surround it! Next up was the Northgate application and again this was actively debated. In fact one member was told if he had bothered to turn up to the site visit his would already know the answer to his questions! Again it was passed if only to make sure the facilities for mental health patients were up to date and available locally. The very next application I had to declare an interest in and the chair said with only a small revision in the last one members declaring interest in this one could leave. Next day and its full council so another mad rush to get in from work and then a quick shower and a shave then up to County Hall for the meeting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0LydhIKT_s&t=4696s It was a WBTC meeting tonight and I had a request on their agenda, would they part fund the new fence and hedging for the front of the West Lea Cemetery. I had been contacted by residents who live opposite this hedge line asking if I could do anything about it appearance and the fact that all sorts of people (and motorbikes!) are treading straight through the gaps. I originally wanted to take the hedge out and replace it with the same fencing which is at either side of the entrance. Given the costs involved I had asked WBTC to help fund that but they declined after another resident objected to the removal of the hedge citing loss of wildlife habitat. This time the project is to replace the gaps with mature hedging, so the full hedge gets to a decent condition sooner and also install new metal fencing at the front of it right along. When this came up there was quite a bit of misunderstanding by WBTC members, one even tore up his papers, so I stood up and gave them chapter and verse of what had actually happened and the proposed project. They eventually agreed and I thanked them. Now I just have to put it all together as a scheme and sort out who pays what and when. I was disappointed about one issue which came up, that, the Advance reply to questions about the development and especially the loss of parking provision in the town. In fact it was the lack of reply which concerned me! I said I would see what I could do with regard to that. Monday and an Advance Audit meeting today. As usual a lot to take in and a lot of serious questions asked and answered. We did have a quick look at the draft internal audit into the company and this initiated a few questions from me through the chair! Going to be an interesting board meeting at the end of the month! Fire Fighter’s pension meeting this morning and while it was quite long it wasn’t as long as they normally are because we have gone from 2 per year to 6. Still a lot of complex issues to get through, not least how class actions nationally impact onto us and our scheme. Thursday and a morning meeting with like-minded community groups who want to address men’s mental health issues. This was Maggie’s idea, our excellent LAC Locality officer and one I feel we are very lucky to have! In the end quite a few representatives turned up and we all agreed to input our own specialities into the new effort. Looking forward to seeing what can be achieved by us all working together. Stop Press: Just learnt that Lindsey Jordan has become our new Bedlington Youth Coordinator. Lindsey is real livewire and I’m certain will quickly become a valued member of our protracted community associations. Well done WBTC for seeing the bigger picture and agreeing to part fund this position! Well after requesting the CeO of Advance comes and talks to the Mayor about the Advance development and associated problems he agreed to do just that! Today we had that meeting and it seemed to me like Christine, the Mayor, got some of the answers she wanted and needed. We certainly had a full and frank meeting! Local Area Council meeting tonight and beforehand a brief meeting with our Local Services manager to put the new Cemetery fence and hedges into play. I also had the chance to talk to the head of service and after the site visit he agreed with my statement that the middle road in the cemetery needed resurfacing ASAP and he is also looking at costings for a proper drainage system inside the cemetery! The meeting itself had several presentations with the Budget leading the way. The Leader of NCC, Councillor Jackson, gave his update and said that the administration was very serious about investing in all towns in the county and went on to say there was £500K in this year’s budget for the small sports facility I have been working on for over a year, at West Lea! He went on to say that our Town Centre development would see work commencing this Spring and he expected it to underpin a Town Plan. Well after decades of our local need not being recognised it seems my constant lobbying and actually working up costs for schemes including already getting agreements in place from various departments and even manufacturers and construction companies we have finally managed to get a sum of money included in the proposed budget! He also spoke about the need to develop more and better skills so I questioned him about the Enterprise Hubs which will be created and said Bedlington is the ideal location for one in the South East! Seems we should be getting to know more about this around June this year and having already laid down a claim for our Town I will continue to lobby all those involved to make sure it’s taken seriously and given adequate consideration. I went on to say that given most people will have multiple occupations throughout their working lives now it’s important to include new skills training for older people as well as our young people. That was generally acknowledged and agreed. Our Care apprenticeship scheme gave the next presentation and then Healthwatch. Take the Healthwatch survey……… https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/HealthwatchSurvey2020?fbclid=IwAR0QGT1KJQqMNuc0AEQahWdksJVY5v7L3U9xRv4jaGRPDP0jU6Wggc_9Je0 With most of the current cabinet and the CeO of NCC attending it was too good an opportunity to miss and I spoke to several about various concerns and opportunities residents and others had reported to me. Last formal meeting of the month was another Advance Board meeting. Again quite a packed agenda and some very interesting things thrown up. I am still pressing for some resolution to, what shall we say, past indiscretions, without which there is certainly residual reputational damage which needs to be properly cleared up!
  5. Great shows on again at Plessey Woods this Saturday. Two shows, 2.00pm and 3.30pm.
  6. Having seen some of the threads and replies to the news about the new rail link I’m a bit surprised at what is being talked about but not shocked, being as most has a political bent. Having been promised this for many many years it must come as a shock to some to see the current NCC administration actually starting to deliver it. Most of the professional people I have spoken to about this see it as the biggest opportunity for socio/economic regeneration this area has seen for decades and that would be my take on the subject because I see this as a conduit not just for easier access to central Newcastle and nationwide, but to get people/visitors into our Town. Of course we now have to build up our own USP’s and actually compete for any new opportunities this will create and for that we need innovation and a clarity of thinking, not political dogma! Whilst I cannot claim any credit for the impetus this has now built up, apart from backing and promoting it at every opportunity, I will claim that the Bedlington Independent councillors have made sure Bedlington gets its station in the very first tranche! Also the people who should be thanked for their consistent lobbying and promotion of this project are SENRUG. It’s a rare opportunity and we should be grabbing it with both hands not talking it down. Of course there is some downside but measured against a huge potential upside that pales into insignificance in my book. The insincere angst some have created about the finances beggars belief because they know full well the £1.5M is only to help with making the business case and detailed planning needed to bring the project to fruition. On top of this NCC have put something like £34M into the medium term budget to make this happen. With a total costing of around £100M it would seem a determined statement of intent!
  7. December 2019. After taking the lads on holiday it was straight back into the thick of things with an Advance Board meeting. We have eventually got through all the new policies which needed to be put into place and now there is just a few agreed amendments to make. Its been a long hard slog with meetings lasting well over 6hrs sometimes but it really needed to be done to make sure the excesses of Arch never happen again! Once again I raised the sore point about the Bedlington redevelopment and the parking problems. Scrutiny meeting today and along with the normal cabinet scrutiny there was one special item, the Climate Emergency strategy. It emerged that there is special provision within the SE of the county for tree planting. With up to 29 sites identified I asked for a map and was assured one would be forthcoming! Friends of West Lea Cemetery tonight and again a well attended meeting. Similar sorts of problems came up and I said I would invite the manager and head of service along to our next meeting so things might get resolved face to face. A phenomenal amount of funding has been raised by the dedication of this group and a few very hard working members! Well done Issey, Sarah and Susan! WBTC Christmas meeting tonight with most getting into the spirit of the season early! Site visit Hartford Bridge with head of service, cabinet member for housing and a couple of officers. Pleased to say they are responding to my requests and I hope a solution has been found and agreed. I had a meeting with cabinet member for local services and the head officer to ask about some requests we have for the cemetery. It was agreed head of service would attend a site visit and see what could be done about my specific requests. The cabinet member did remark that there were other cemeteries in equally parlous states or even worse but I replied that whilst I might agree they aren’t in my ward! LAC Meeting at Concordia tonight. I chaired the last one and had been asked several questions which I said I would have to find the correct answers to add report back. I had done so and gave the answers to the meeting when we went through the minutes. This one was mainly planning and one application in particular about extending opening hours of a take away in Seaton Delaval. I did have some questions about this and the one which I still find curious was that a 12 month trial would be conducted with a 6 month review after close monitoring. I had to ask again who would be doing the monitoring because the answer was the applicant? So the applicant who wanted the increased hours would assess any incursions which might not allow that to happen. A farce would be too kind a description! Anyway it was agreed by majority. The rest of the month I was chasing stuff up for residents so we could get closure before the Xmas holidays.
  8. https://www.local.gov.uk/our-support/purdah/what-purdah-means-practice
  9. Not allowed to Bedlingtonian. As a councillor we are under Purdah and there are quite strict rules regarding this. As a private individual thats different.
  10. November 2019. First up a site visit to Hexham at 10am Monday morning. Even with the traffic I made it in time and we all stood at the site entrance. This one was about developing a bit of derelict land at the entrance to Hexham. The real crux was the listed stone wall which will have to be removed and re-sited further back for a new roundabout and access into the site. The officers took us through the application explaining what was proposed. Took about an hour to get through and walk around. I can see this will be pretty controversial tomorrow night when it comes in front of our committee. Strategic planning this afternoon but first a presentation about a possible schools project in Hexham. We heard that and asked quite a lot of questions, it actually overran by about 30mins. Next was the planning meeting and we had an application for Bedlington to discharge reserved matters on the proposed new houses next to the Chesters. First were two applications related to the Hexham application. Both were considered as one but voted on separately. The first was about the new store and hotel which is being proposed as well as possible secondary retail offers. I just thought this hotel will dominate the site and its basically a square box pity we don’t see some imaginative design for it. We also considered this listed wall and its removal. It is to be re-sited around a new curve allowing vehicular access to the site but I pointed out that most of the stone which is to be reused is shot so new stone will have to be used and it won’t look the same. I asked planners to take the aesthetics into account when agreeing materials. There are also old bricked up tunnels under this road and wall which we all hoped might come back into use for pedestrians and cyclists. This application went through unanimously after hearing it had been a blot on the landscape for 30 years! Next came the Bedlington reserved matters application. I had asked for this to come back to committee even though the developer didn’t see the need! We had the scheme outlined by the planners and then had a member of the public speak about safety issues at the proposed junction and then the spokesperson for WBTC who had tabled several objections. The problem was that most were not specific to the application! However some were and needed to be answered. We then had members questions and I waited until the end before asking mine. I did this because I could only ask about matters pertinent to the application and those brought up by the planners and highways. I had to say I was struggling to contain my questions to the application only given the history and the planners knew exactly what I was saying! Because of questions and replies given earlier I started by saying what had really happened and why and explaining some of the reasoning other members had asked about. I then asked my questions, we had heard about a speed reduction, where was that proposed, trees were to be removed where abouts, the S106 agreement and how it will be delivered and do we have a definitive settlement boundary now? Each one was taken by several officers and it took quite some time to get through as we argued and debated back and forth, especially about the S106 infrastructure funding. In the end with only my vote against the application passed. Full council meeting today and again only questions off independent members tabled to the administration! Mine was first. I wanted to know about the build quality of these new social houses are are supposed to be building and used another council’s award winning scheme to illustrate how we could be doing them. Seems we are going to look into the build quality and running costs so I spoke about the project Northumbria University are currently doing with the North East’s very own George Clark, one of channel 4’s architect building experts, and could we get the recommendations and suggestions coming out of that to use in our own builds? No commitment but at least they know about it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0ym88gG-Ng&t=1612s Again a ping pong match between the main parties each trying to score points over each other. Even the Lib Dems got into this one! Facilitated a meeting at County Hall today with a group of residents and the appropriate officer to see if solutions to their problems could be found. Hopefully they have and we will see some action soon. Remembrance Day and a full schedule today for me. I declined the NCC parade and instead attended the West Bedlington Memorial. First up was a scrutiny meeting at County Hall about the forthcoming budget amongst others. I had quite a few questions for this scrutiny meeting across all the subjects. I had read one paragraph over and over and it still seemed to me to be something other than what was promised. This was about a budget consultation but it only said the proposals would be presented and explained. It never mentioned anyone responding to the consultation would have their views considered and might ultimately influence any decisions made. As I said that’s a PR exercise not a consultation! This was disputed by the portfolio holder and I eventually gave him the benefit of the doubt, but I will closely monitor this consultation and see if anything coming up influenced any of the proposals in anyway! https://www.northumberlandgazette.co.uk/news/politics/council/call-meaningful-consultation-budget-ps10million-cuts-planned-northumberland-county-council-974817?fbclid=IwAR01_EPvFO-Mv5FzGgCZGtk7vILJsM4yWp3bNoZ1Y_j6QsZN-WLRdCJNhmQ After this meeting it was back to Bedlington for the Remembrance Day service at the Memorial and then up to West Lea Cemetery to officially unveil my new plaque. I had asked Sydney Graham to do the honours as he organises the Remembrance Day parade for our armed services and the Royal British Legion. He has also identified most of not all the war grave in this cemetery. Parachute Regiment veteran Bill Johnson came too. We had an all member Local Transport Plan meeting today and about a third of the councillors turned up for it. After an outline we then broke into LAC groups to go through each of our proposals. I registered my immediate concerns that none of my proposals had made it through into the schemes to be worked up. After checking my email trail the officer apologised and wrote them down again, this time into the approved schemes! We spent most of the allocated time with the first officer then had a swap as the technical officer came in and again I managed to get another two of my schemes into the mix. So from going from zero input I managed to get 5 schemes into the mix! I also mentioned something which bothers me personally and even though its not even in my ward I had to mention it. It was the road out of Bedlington up the Horton Bank, especially the adverse camber coming down this road towards the Attlee Park bridge. I was surprised this had never been mentioned but it was agreed this was something to be looked at especially when the officer emphatically agreed with me it is very dangerous! We then had an inclusive last session on things like plastic added road surfaces and after I had some questions about that the meeting was called over. One thing which had made it through already was my call to get the 40MPH bit of road at the bottom of Choppington Road reclassified as 30MPH. I felt it was a morning well spent but only if we see some resulting actions! LAC tonight and the chair has been in touch to say she is unwell so could I chair it. I got to Netherton Club in good time and agreed to open the meeting then hand over to the Planning chair for that part of the meeting. I had to declare an interest in the only application before us so once the planning started I left the room. Had to remind another member she had the same interest! Once the planning was over, and it took about 10 mins, we had 45mins to wait before I could restart the meeting! Daft! I reminded everyone that we were not a Hustings, we were a Local Area Council operating under Purdah so don’t try it on! Once the meeting restarted I opened with public questions and seeing as we were in Bedlington there are always some of them! Once members of the public had asked their questions and been satisfied with the responses I moved onto the agenda. We had several presentations and updates off NCC highways and local services. Good hearted meeting tonight and I allowed members of the public to ask their own questions to the officers. I might get into hot water again because of that but if I’m in charge of the meeting then members of the public can have some access! Not sure if this has been seen by many……. https://www.newspostleader.co.uk/news/local-plan-proposals-main-towns-south-east-northumberland-399418 Next meeting was the LAC chairs meeting when once again I requested more public involvement into the area LAC’s. I did this because of a specific question relating to this at our last LAC. The answer came back that public involvement was at the discretion of the chair, so at least I have some justification if needed! Several other matters were discussed and county wide community chest applications heard. I had to go back up to County Hall this afternoon to chair our area’s community chest and once again there was one application which didn’t adhere to the rules so we had to dismiss that one. Very pleased it wasn’t a Bedlington based organisation! The rest of the applications went through with just about all getting the funding they had applied for. Once again we have an underspend so an extra round in Jan/Feb was called for. Well that’s just about it for this month and as my December diary won’t be seen until January I wish all the readers of this a Merry Xmas and a very happy New Year.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
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