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Everything posted by _pauls

  1. "Further investment of just over £2 million to ensure the project is completed." Part of the problem is nobody seems to know what the project is any more. I'm assuming that what is referred to here is the four new retail units and associated flats, rather than any of the other plans.
  2. Good to see it looking so smart. I haven't been in the cemetery for a while as my fitness regime lapsed but when I walked through the other day it looked great.
  3. I really don't want to get dragged into what is clearly an emotive subject about whether parents were better or worse in the 1950s to the 2020s. I have some sympathy with the argument but its not really relevant. What we are talking about here is the facilities offered to residents of Bedlington today compared to towns of similar sizes (and presumably making similar inputs into the council's coffers).
  4. I agree a full blown leisure centre is not necessarily what we need, I was just pointing out that some leisure facilities including a swimming pool seemed to be promised/announced by Advance Northumberland 14 months ago and has now seemingly disappeared. I'm just looking for something other than another small budget supermarket and a row of shops and flats which is all that has been confirmed. No sign of any update on plans to "boost the scale of leisure facilities in the town centre" I'd like to think that the millions from the various national regeneration/levelling up schemes that have been announced will land us something more than an Aldi. I appreciate Malcolm's comments here and in the video clip that suggests that there are plans well underway that haven't been announced to the public yet and his request that there can be an update. I am just pointing out again that its more then 6 years since the council took control of the Tesco site and so far there is is still no confirmed leisure offering. In that time I think we've lost half a library and a swimming pool.
  5. I appreciate what you are saying that not every town will have every facility, and small villages will always rely on nearby towns for some things, but Bedlington is not a small village. Bedlington is larger than Morpeth, Alnwick, Hexham, Berwick or Amble. Think about the facilities these places have and think about what Bedlington has. Think about how much council tax we are paying in to the coffers of the council and think about what we are getting in return. The fact is that towns the size of Bedlington across the county (and the country as a whole) do have local facilities like leisure centres, cinemas, theatres, museums etc in fact I suspect that each of the towns I listed above has most or all of these facilities while we have none of them. Comparing the 1950s to the 2020s is a little misleading. I grew up in the 1970s and that was a different world with a fraction of the traffic and less petty crime and violence so as a 10-12 yr old I'd think nothing of cycling 5 miles to the nearest "bigger" towns for the cinema or the amusement arcades, with little fear of getting knocked off my bike or having it nicked. Plus few kids in those days grew up in households where both parents worked full time so there was more scope for parents to take them to facilities that were further afield. You can argue that life was simpler, happier and fitter back then but the world is a very different place and it is far more relevant to compare Bedlington of 2021 to Morpeth or Blyth of 2021 than to Netherton of 1950. The key for me is independence - as a kid I had access to facilities that were further afield because it was easier and safer to get around than it is today. The same applies to people of all ages for who transport is not affordable or easy. If the argument is "why can't people travel to use facilities?" then I'm not quite sure why this argument only applies to Bedlington and not Blyth, Morpeth, Cramlington and Ashington when it comes to swimming baths for example. As I say I don't mean to be disrespectful of other opinions but this is of material impact on the lives and livelihoods of the people of Bedlington and while it may be of interest to those who may once of lived here but now reside elsewhere it will have little or no impact on their lives. It is a little like the fable of the chicken and the pig
  6. No disrespect intended but that is very easy to say if you don't live in the town. We moved to the town 12 years ago with a 3 year old daughter. She is now taking her GCSEs, A levels next year and then hopefully away for University. She has grown up in a town with virtually no leisure facilities other than a couple of playing fields. I really do hope we will get something other than retail and apartments - something like the announcement last year for example - but she will have her bags packed and will have left the town before the ribbon is cut to open it. That is a crying shame for a generation to grow up and leave the area having never had a fraction of the opportunities afforded to the kids of Blyth, Cramlington, Morpeth, Ashington etc. I'm sorry but a whole generation of kids shouldn't have had to wait.
  7. Thanks Malcolm - appreciate you keeping up the good fight
  8. So a year and a bit on and Aldi is nearing completion - its nice to see something in place of the wastelands. In August 2020 we were promised : Wonder what happened to that?
  9. I went for a walk last night and was horrified to see the trees recently planted along the path from the corner of the cemetery towards Hartlands have all been systematically snapped. I was heading in the direction of 20 acres and those trees were untouched thankfully but I don't know if any others were damaged. I have no appropriate words for whoever was behind this mindless vandalism
  10. Sounds good - can I just check though... when you say you want volunteers to plant their own trees - I assume you mean plant a specific tree rather than their own tree. I assume you aren't suggesting people should decide what to plant and where?
  11. EE here as well and no problems
  12. 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!
  13. 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.
  14. 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
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. Out for a walk this lunchtime and I was a little surprised to see around 5-600 people attending a funeral in the cemetery.
  23. Jeez if we had a lake we could even stock it with fish and make some money out of angling permits!
  24. 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.
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