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_pauls last won the day on December 10 2020

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  1. Thanks Malcolm - my point about the lack of Pub and sporting facilities was just that now we seem to be back to just housing and a supermarket of similar size and character to the ones we already have (at least in terms of committed development). I thought this was roundly rejected by the people of the town in the initial consultation. I certainly think the idea of leisure facilities and a business/community hub would be much better than a load of small retail units that either stand empty or pop us as vape shops for 6 months and then shut down again, however as far as I can see the only commitment is to Aldi and new retail units and flats at the market place. I have requested the council share with us an updated plan in terms of exactly what is in scope for Phases 1 and 2 (plus the latest thinking on timings) versus what is presumably aspiration for Phases 3 and beyond, and an idea of what the scale of the investment is. I was told back in September that we'd bid for some of the funding available from the Get Britain Building scheme and a verdict should be due in January, so it seems like the budget keeps growing but the ambition keep shrinking.
  2. Thanks Malcolm - you beat me to it. Still no sign of the InvestingInBedlington.co.uk website being updated which is odd given its intended purpose of keeping us up to date on the project. It does look like the scheme is regressing though - just Aldi and some new flats and a couple of retail units. The family-oriented pub in the initial plans seems to be long gone and the promised leisure facilities from September's update relegated to a possible future phase (phase 3 or beyond presumably). Still at least it looks like we might finally see some bricks rising above the ground at some point this year which is better than what we've had for the past 6 years and counting. That said we have had numerous such statements over those years promising imminent building work so here's hoping this isn't yet another false dawn.
  3. Out for a walk this lunchtime and I was a little surprised to see around 5-600 people attending a funeral in the cemetery.
  4. Jeez if we had a lake we could even stock it with fish and make some money out of angling permits!
  5. I'm not having a go at our independent councillors... OK I am a bit... I know they are doing their best and its why I ask that they should try and shame the rest of the council into action. I don't agree we get transparency though... the councillors on here tend to post an update and then disappear for months - very rarely any response to comments on their posts. I get that they are busy but engaging in debate would be helpful rather than a "fire and forget" approach. Likewise pretty much every update on the investinginbedlington.co.uk website since it was launched has followed very shortly after me directly pointing out a lack of updates and requesting them to give us the latest. It may be a coincidence but I don't think so. Promises, manifestos and letters of intent are fine for a while, but the net result experienced by the people of Bedlington over the last 5 years is that we have reduced car parking spaces and connectivity between the high street and the station for pedestrians.. Progress should be measured in utility to the people of the town and so far the balance since April 2015 is firmly negative in respect of this development. We need to stop hoping that 2021 will be the year... we should be demanding it. I am seriously contemplating a FOI request to find out how much money is invested in Bedlington per head of population/£ revenue from council tax vs what is spent, in comparison to other towns in the county.I hope our local councillors already have that info and can enlighten us. The other hidden scandal is the leisure/sports provision supposedly afforded by the Sporting Club Bedlington - it took me 6 months to be able to actually book a sports hall slot for badminton and in several months of playing there hasn't been a single other person using the indoor facilities - the look on the receptionists face when I turned up to a booking for the first time was all you needed to know! Another FOI request I'm thinking about putting in is to find out what usage this "community facility" has had since opening... the ability to book resources is certainly well hidden. I'm only half joking in saying that we should just re-wild the whole thing - if we are never going to get the promised investment in the built environment then some nice park land and duck pond would suit me better than a fenced off concrete wasteland. At the end of the day if we can't persuade our council to invest in something imaginative then please just give us the land back and use it for environmental purposes.
  6. That's not to say people shouldn't be interested in the past... just would be nice to look to the future a bit too
  7. @Alan Edgar (Eggy1948) I totally agree about the changing nature of the high street and I know that it is a difficult time to be looking at opening new retail premises. As I understand it, aside from Aldi, all the other prospective tenants have now pulled out of the scheme. I was hugely encouraged to see the prospect of new leisure facilities seemingly being agreed, however the prospect of that seems to be receding. That said, Amble has had a new retail centre developed from consultation through to the tills ringing in their first cash in 18 months, developed by the same people entrusted with the future of our town, so if that can be done why not Bedlington? I do think that Bedlington needs some kind of attraction besides retail to bring footfall to the town - without that, small retail is doomed to fail in the light of online shopping habits. The problem seems to be that we're not allowed to compete with neighbouring towns for things like cinemas. It really saddens me that 95% of the posts on this website are about Bedlington's past not its future, but maybe that's part of the answer - build on the strong sense of history in the town with a museum and heritage centre and events space - hell there's a world-famous breed of dog named after the place - maybe relocate the family history archives from Woodhorn. Throw in a cafe, a 150 seater multi-use auditorium the can be used as a theatre or cinema screen, a new library and council services section and you have a hub that isn't fighting a losing battle with Amazon and eBay. But if all else fails, if there is no sign of any development work this time next year, can Advance just rip up the concrete, move in some topsoil and grass and a few trees, dig a decent size lake and put some of those snazzy Bedlington Terrier benches in and at least we can get some use out of our town centre rather than having it fenced off.
  8. You're quite right that 2020 has been quite a year. I'm sure if it hadn't been for COVID we could have had a ceremony to reflect on all the exciting leaps forward in the 5 years since the town centre redevelopment began. I'm not sure which has been my favourite year of the project so far.. 2015 ? when Arch acquired the site? But then again nothing actually happened. 2016 ? when Tesco was demolished? But apart from that nothing actually happened. 2017 ? I don't think anything much happened. 2018 ? definitely a vintage year - we got a website to keep us up to date with "progress". Not that there was any. 2019 ? was probably the standout year - we got a photograph of people in hi-vis with shovels. Apart from that nothing happened. 2020 ? Covid hit so the pace of progressed slowed a little. Maybe 2021 is going to be the big year when we see a brick laid? @Russ Wallace you say 2020 is "A Year Like No Other" - I'd say as far as progressing the future of our town, 2020 has been a year very much the same as 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. I sincerely hope you and your fellow Bedlington councillors can shame your colleagues into making sure that 2021 isn't added to that list of wasted years.
  9. Don't you just love politics? No offence but if yourself and our other two independent councillors have been bought with the town centre scheme then you must be cheap dates compared to members for Ashington and Morpeth!
  10. Fantastic news - new leisure facilities including a swimming pool, and a new library heading our way and works on the new anchor store still on track to start in 2020. https://www.investinginbedlington.co.uk/2020/09/01/government-funding-to-kick-start-work-in-bedlington/
  11. Good job I decided not to hold my breath. Three weeks on and no update either by email or to the site. Even worse... Greg's webchat seems to be permanently off "live" mode. I do hope he is OK. I appreciate @Malcolm Robinson's comments but an update on the official site set up to keep us informed would be perhaps the most appropriate update. #WhereIsGreg
  12. Yes thanks Malcolm. I nearly fell of my chair just now when I noted that Bedlington is getting a slice of the £47m kitty for "shovel ready projects" announced to bounce back from Covid. Lets see it put to some good use now.
  13. Went on to Advance Northumberland's website today to ask them if they could update the Investing In Bedlington website and was greeted with a friendly "Chat with us" popup so I took up their invite. It took 1 hr 20 mins for anyone to reply despite it asserting that the service was online. Got through to a very surly "Greg" who clearly wasn't happy at me interrupting his Friday. He advised me he'd talk to the team and see if they had any update and would "probably" email me. It would just be nice to know whether in the 5 months since the last update, a) whether final planning permission for the revised plans from Aldi was granted back in March or if they threw up any more hurdles, b) assuming that COVID hasn't led Aldi to rethink whether the timescales of building work starting "by summer" are still valid, and c) whether any other tenants have been lured. My breath is not currently being held. I think there's a real opportunity to breathe fresh new life into towns like Bedlington over the next few months - across the country people are rethinking their priorities and deciding that they don't want to sit in cars for hours commuting into overcrowded and expensive cities any longer, and they are quite happy working from home. I work for a large organisation in Newcastle and they've said that they are happy to afford that kind of flexibility for most people. It saves them money, it saves me money, but if I'm in Bedlington every day not the city centre I want shops here in town that I can nip to. (I would say same for gymns but I'd be lying!). That's why Boris is desperate for people to go back to working in offices - because the 25-odd branches of Greggs will make no money in the city centre without the footfall of office workers, but most of the companies I talk to are not going to order everyone back to their desks. There will be no reduction in demand for shops, but where the demand is will change. Its a shame that the council/Advance Northumberland seem to have no interest in delivering even the basics let alone being creative in shaping Bedlington's future.
  14. I only noticed this for the first time yesterday - probably because of limited reasons to be passing - looks really good from the photos. I didn't realise what it was as I was driving past - its tucked out of the way a little, shame it couldn't be somewhere a bit more prominent. Very nice addition though.
  15. Three years and one month on since I started this thread and what has progressed in the intervening period? Of course COVID-19 has thrown a spanner in the works everywhere but it would be nice if the InvestingInBedlington.co.uk site was updated at least quarterly but yet again months upon months of silence. In February we were a couple of weeks away from a "final" planning decision. Whats more now the "Contact Us" page doesn't work and the email address bounces. Any ideas whether a) the redevelopment is still going ahead or if Aldi have thought twice and pulled the plug and b) assuming it is still going ahead... when are we going to see the first brick laid? Slightly annoying driving through Amble and seeing their shiny new Morrisons complete with Petrol Station that took around 12 months to approve, build and open while we are sat 5 years on from Arch acquiring the land in Bedlington with absolutely nothing to show for it.
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