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_pauls last won the day on March 6

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  1. Thanks for the update Malcolm - some good stuff in there. I noticed the new grit bin on Dunstanburgh the other day, and just this morning I was walking through West Lea Cemetary with my daughter for what seems like the millionth time since lockdown, and she asked me what the building was. Now I can give her a real answer!
  2. Sadly its not a radius its a diameter - its not far off mind, I am surprised its only about 60km from Blyth to Redcar as the crow flies. As for the Tory distribution of wealth that neither surprises or bothers me. It is politics, this kind of thing has been done for centuries and its been done by both sides of the political divide. I can't say I would have complained if our seat had gone from red to blue and we were being showered with cash as a reward.
  3. Ah... 45km which comes to 27.962 miles https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/935493/Freeports_Bidding_Prospectus_web_final.pdf
  4. I think that there are some maximum dimensions that would preclude covering from the Tees north up to Blyth - I have the figure 27 miles in my head but I can't find the source to back that up so I may be wrong but I'm pretty sure its not far off. As I say I think both areas have strong cases and just hope that there is a possibility of more free ports in the future that could benefit us.
  5. So.. today I finally got a response to my questions which Advance treated as a Freedom of Information request. The questions I asked were : What is now in scope for the phases of the development, so we can see what is actually committed vs aspirations for the future? What are the current timelines associated with these phases? What are the current budgets for these phases? Did we get the additional funding applied for last year from the Get Britain Building scheme? What is the overall size of funding secured now? How does this compare in terms of investment into other towns in the area? NB I didn't frame this as an FOI myself it was just an email - I would have been a bit more forensic if I'd known it was going to be dealt with as an FOI. Anyway I was advised to see the press release and "check our social media", and an additional two paragraphs : “Advance applied for £2m funding from the Governments Getting Building Fund in November and approval was received in January which, along with the funding from NCC, will enable the next phase of the scheme to progress on the Market Place which will include a terrace of commercial units with apartments above (Greggs will remain and continue to trade throughout). We continue to work with NCC on potential options for further phases which could include an enterprise hub and leisure offer" They did not decline to answer my questions on any particular grounds, they just chose to ignore them. Not very satisfactory.
  6. I assume you mean Blyth, Tyne and Wear can continue to scratch a living. To be fair (and I would say that being what most would class as a smoggy) I think Teesside and in particular Redcar and the old steelworks area are every bit as in need of the economic boost as the Blyth/Tyne/Wear area. I would have liked to see both of them get the status and see some of the more affluent southern parts miss out. Still... as I understand it these are the 8 initial freeports so its not a closing of the book on the chances for our area.
  7. Thanks Malcolm - I appreciate your perseverance. To some extent I'm tired of hearing about funding and want to hear about what is going to be done with it. Another "reimagining" exercise sounds like the ball being kicked down the road again on any real benefit coming to the town (I don't think a carbon copy of the existing Lidl is much benefit). I'm a Teessider originally and I was very interested in the plans by Stockton council for a very different kind of town centre redevelopment : https://www.stockton.gov.uk/news/2020/february/plans-unveiled-for-stockton-town-centre-after-massive-response-to-public-consultation/. I know we don't have a river but its nice to see someone thinking differently about what adds value to a community.
  8. Any update from your request @Malcolm Robinson? I got an email back three weeks ago saying that my query was accepted as an FOI request but I've heard nothing since then. I emailed the FOI team to ask if there was any ETA on an answer on Monday but heard nothing back from that email either.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Out for a walk this lunchtime and I was a little surprised to see around 5-600 people attending a funeral in the cemetery.
  12. Jeez if we had a lake we could even stock it with fish and make some money out of angling permits!
  13. 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.
  14. 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
  15. @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.
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