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Bill Crosby

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  1. Let me be clear; there is a commitment from the current political administration to develop a swimming pool in Bedlington. It has been discussed and agreed over several months in response to the changes to the town centre scheme. That an unnamed Northumberland County Council spokesperson has seemingly questioned this is a matter to be resolved within the corridors of power at County Hall and something that needs to happen now. Russ, Malcolm and I have already written to the Acting Chief Executive to seek answers and clarification. Our message is that improved leisure facilities are a must for Bedlington and are wanted by residents It is not acceptable that other towns have the equivalent of two leisure centres and smaller places have leisure facilities that our town does not. After decades of Labour failing to deliver there is at last an opportunity to provide Bedlington residents with a leisure offer that other areas take for granted. This is through funding that otherwise would have been spent on retail and the additional resources from government which were recently announced. If more is needed, then that is where the Council’s capital programme comes into play as it has previously for large scale infrastructure projects across the county. If that can be done for Ashington, Berwick, Blyth, Morpeth, Hexham and Ponteland then our turn is long overdue. Bedlington should receive equal treatment; in fact, more than that is required given unequal history. That is why I stood for election and that is what I am continually seeking to achieve. As a footnote, I have recently received emails from ‘Mary Whitehouse’ and ‘John Profumo’. That is the level of the murky and ridiculous antics taking place in Northumberland at present. I am not interested in petty score settling. Bedlington is my only concern and it deserves better.
  2. As some of you will have read there have been some significant changes to the town centre re-development project as a result of Covid-19. High street shops have been suffering for some time now due to changes in shopping habits and it was always going to be difficult to attract investment but that had been achieved with Bedlington recognised as a new market by retailers. Sadly, Covid-19 changed that as the retail sector contracted and some businesses ceased trading. This resulted in my two fellow Bedlington Councillors and myself having in depth discussions with the current administration as to what we could do in order to move the development forward for the benefit of Bedlington residents. Over a period of months, we developed and agreed a new direction for the town centre that would replace elements of the retail with the leisure provision that Bedlington lacks in comparison to neighbouring towns. This will include a swimming pool and a new modern library in the heart of the town centre. A supermarket remains part of the development as do units that will front the market place. With the extra £2.5m that the Council received from the Government for Bedlington there will now be in the region of £10.5m available for the re-worked project, which given the circumstances is something that I am delighted about. At the meeting of full council yesterday there was a vote of no confidence in the Council Leader, Peter Jackson, which I did not support. This was put forward by the Labour Leader who also made a ridiculous accusation that the votes of Bedlington Councillors had been bought by the proposed investment in the town centre. Let me put the record straight on those two issues as I will not be lectured at by Labour or any other political party. I did not support the vote of no confidence for the quite simple reason that no evidence was provided by Labour or any other Councillor that spoke to back up allegations and rumours. In my experience it would be the equivalent of convicting someone without a proper trial and consideration of the facts. If evidence had been presented that wrongdoing had taken place, then I would have voted differently but there was nothing more than references to what had been reported in the press. My Bedlington colleague Councillor Russ Wallace put it rather succinctly yesterday when he spoke: “What we don’t have yet are facts. Until we do, we should get on with what we were elected to do.” If other Councillors are happy to be complicit in what I thought to be a kangaroo court that is a matter for them. On the accusation from Councillor Susan Dungworth that my vote was bought for the investment I find the hypocrisy and irony off the scale. What have Labour ever done for Bedlington? How many decades have they had to build a leisure centre in the town? During the most recent Labour administration the Portfolio Member for Leisure was a Bedlington based Councillor and Ashington got a replacement leisure centre yet Bedlington got nothing. Whilst Ian Lavery chaired Ashington Football Club it benefited from more than £1m of investment as part of the Arch scandal that took place under Labour. How much did Bedlington Terriers get? The answer is nothing and that is what Labour has delivered for Bedlington. The investment in leisure in Bedlington is the result of the hard work of myself and my two colleagues over several months who are motivated only to do what is right for Bedlington. Yesterday was a political side show as a result of Conservative party infighting and Labour opportunism. I have no interest in either and will continue to serve Bedlington residents to the best of my ability and to address the complete failure of representation in the past.
  3. It has come to my attention that there has been a lot said on social media concerning Dr Pit Park and the antisocial behaviour associated with it. One of the main concerns is that the park is not locked overnight. At the end of last year, I met with NCC Officers and West Bedlington Town Council (WBTC) to explore, amongst other issues, the possibility of having the park locked at night. Following this discussion, NCC said they would go away and research how much it would cost to have someone open and lock the gates every morning and evening. WBTC were quite happy to contribute to this but nothing has been forthcoming from NCC, so I have recently followed this up and am awaiting a response. Another question often asked is why there is no CCTV in the park. I have asked the Police and NCC about this and the reason given is that, in their opinion, the number of incidents reported in the park does not justify the installation of CCTV. I understand that some residents have contacted the Police using the 101 system but have given up because they were on the telephone too long. There are, however, other ways to contact the Police which have been pointed out by them many times at their ‘Cuppa with a Copper’ sessions; if the incident is not an emergency, it can be reported using the on-line system using the link below. https://beta.northumbria.police.uk/advice-and-info/neighbourhood-issues/anti-social-behaviour-asb/ If any resident is genuinely aggrieved at the length of time they have been on the telephone to the Police without getting an answer then could they please let me know the date and time of the call, together with their telephone number, and I will ask the Police why that call was not answered. If residents can justify the installation of CCTV, I will happily help by using my small schemes allowance but then we have the problem of who will be able to view it. This is governed by various bits of legislation, to include RIPA 2000 and GDPR, and for that reason I would not be allowed to view it, neither would any member of the public, so If anyone can suggest how to get around this I will certainly explore getting it installed. I will continue to try and get this matter resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, but we do need the help of the public as well and people do need to report incidents as they happen so that the Police can build up a picture of incidents in the park. As an example, apparently no one actually reported last year’s fire in the Pavilion at Dr Pit Park to the Police so no official crime was logged and therefore there was nothing for the Police to investigate, despite many people allegedly witnessing it; we do need to consistently log calls so that the Police can build up a dossier of incidents/antisocial behaviour that would then warrant them dealing with the area as a ‘crime hot spot’. With specific regard to the incident in the Pavilion, I understand that the Fire Service were called at 1.17pm that day and subsequently mobilised 3 appliances. The first appliance was there at 1.24pm and the crew dealt with a small fire on the exterior of an external toilet door; this fire was extinguished at 1.31pm. Supporting appliances were not required. 15 minutes was spent ventilating the Pavilion and the incident is logged as having been concluded by 1.45pm. Whilst not wanting to detract from what could have been a very serious incident, the fire was not as extensive as that reported via social media. Looking to the future, residents may want to consider trying to form a ‘Friends of’ Group. People living close to and visiting Westlea Cemetery were encountering similar problems and they got together to form ‘The Friends of Westlea Cemetery’, who now meet on a monthly basis. The formation of this group has given them access to funding and help from other sources and they have had a lot of success in resolving many of the problems they were encountering, to include antisocial behaviour. If there are like-minded people in the surrounding area of Dr Pit Park, perhaps they could do likewise and I will do everything I can to help them get this off the ground. If anyone would like to contact me regarding any issues, you can reach me by private message on Facebook, Twitter @billbedeast, e-mail at bill.crosby@northumberland.gov.uk or telephone/text me on 07779 – 983656.
  4. Last year, Armed Forces Day was commemorated in Bedlington for the first time and there was a decent turn out of service personnel and veterans, with the event including a buffet lunch at Bedlington Community Centre complete with music from the era. This year, Armed Forces Day is to be commemorated on Saturday 27 June 2020 and we are hoping to include a small parade involving both serving members and veterans ending at the War Memorial on Bedlington Front Street. It would be fantastic if more veterans, regardless of what branch of the Armed Forces they served in, could attend to make this year’s event bigger and better than last year. If anyone is interested, or knows of any veterans who would like to attend, could they please contact me with their details? You can reach me by private message on Facebook, Twitter @billbedeast, e-mail me at bill.crosby@northumberland.gov.uk or telephone/text me on 07779 – 983656. Let’s make it a great turnout this year!
  5. As some of you may know, there will be a by-election for two vacancies on East Bedlington Parish Council. Both vacancies lie within the Bedlington East Ward. The election will take place on Thursday 4 July 2019. There are four candidates for the two positions, two Labour Party and two Independent candidates. As you would expect, being an Independent Councillor myself, I am fully supporting the two Independent candidates, Keith Scantlebury and Helen Bradford. I have known Keith for many years and he has always had an interest in his local area. He is currently Chair of Burnside Estate Residents Group, which has been instrumental in raising funds to enhance the lives of the residents and children that live there and has been so successful that they have seen a drop in the level of anti-social behaviour on the estate. He also sits on Bernicia’s Community Investment Panel and has been a regular attendee at the East Bedlington Parish Council meetings, so he has a good idea of what would be required. I have known Helen for less time but since I took over the Chair of the Friends of Gallagher Park two years ago she has served with me on that committee trying to make the park better for the community. She has been an active member in organising the planting of wild flowers and tree pruning to make the walking trails more accessible and she has also been very proactive in helping to raise funds that has enabled the construction of a new play area in the park, work which is underway currently. This is the play area, as some of you may recall, that the Labour-led East Bedlington Parish Council refused to support when asked for a contribution. Helen is currently employed with HMRC but also finds time to assist her partner with his motorcycle training school which is based here in Bedlington. Compare these two active members of the local community, who are funding their own campaigns, to the other candidates, who have just been chosen because they are party members. It’s not easy to put yourself forward and stand as an Independent candidate. I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to be up against a party machine and all the resources they have at their disposal, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. If you look at recent local elections in Bedlington, you’ll find that the national party hasn’t done all that well. Could it be that the public realise that it’s not about party politics but local issues that matter? There hasn’t been an election for a seat on East Bedlington Parish Council for ten years. It has been dominated by the Labour Party who have been more than happy to endorse the party line even at this level of politics. There should be no place for party politics at parish level and you can help change the dynamic of that council so that there are more independent thinkers to challenge the old guard. I am proud to throw my support behind these two hard working, community minded individuals. Let’s take the party out of local politics. Vote Independent on July 4. Vote for Helen Bradford and Keith Scantlebury.
  6. Following last week’s Annual Meeting of the Town at West Bedlington Community Centre, there was some criticism on social media that residents had not been made aware of this event, (despite it being on their website for 3 weeks prior, in the newsletter and shared on Facebook.) On Tuesday it is the turn of East Bedlington Parish Council to hold their Annual Assembly. In order to try and divert any future criticism that no-one knew, I am attaching the agenda for this meeting below for your information. Last year there were no residents from East Bedlington in attendance. This is your opportunity to find out what is happening in your area, meet and ask questions of your local Councillors and raise issues concerning your local community. Discussions with your local representatives can often prove to be more informative than relying solely on social media. At the end of this meeting there will be light refreshments. Hope to see you all there.
  7. As those of you who use Gallagher Park frequently will know, the children’s play area has been in a poor state of repair for several years now. The Friends of Gallagher Park have been tirelessly campaigning for better facilities in the park that can be utilised by families who visit the park with their children. Recently, I met with the Director of Local Services from NCC together with the Portfolio holder for the Environment and Local Services to discuss improvements in the park. They both agreed that the play facilities left a lot to be desired and, as a result of that meeting, NCC have agreed to invest in improvements in the park. They started off with a budget of £65,000 but, with contributions from myself, Councillors Russ Wallace and Jeff Gobin, West Bedlington Town Council and The Friends of Gallagher Park, that total has now increased to around the £80,000 mark. Disappointingly, at their meeting last night, Tuesday 2 April, East Bedlington Parish Council declined to contribute to the project, citing a lack of information as the reason. The decision was not unexpected as I have been informed by the previous East Bedlington Parish Council Chair that, as Gallagher Park was owned by NCC, they would not contribute to the upkeep or modernisation of the park. Given that the park lies mainly within their parish boundary and hosts their music event I felt, and still feel, this to be a very negative view to take. However, on a positive note, I think we will be able to get a very good play area in the park; NCC have it out for tender now and hope to have it completed by the time the schools have their summer break. With a bit of luck, and with the support of NCC, the County Councillors, West Bedlington Town Council and the Friends of Gallagher Park, the children’s play area will be finished by the summer and the families attending Gallagher Park Live will have a chance to enjoy the facilities, unaware that this was without the support of the Parish Council.
  8. As some of you will be aware, there have been several incidents of criminal damage in the area over the past couple of weeks. These incidents have consisted of houses being targeted and windows broken as well as vehicles having their windscreens and other windows smashed. Whilst this would be traumatic for anyone who is the victim of such crimes, it is particularly distressing for anyone who may be elderly and be the repeat victim of such crimes. The police are doing what they can, but as we all know, there are less Police Officers available to do the job as effectively as they once did. I have been speaking to them over the weekend, and I know they were conducting door- to- door enquiries in the area following the recent spate of incidents. They have asked me to request that those of you that live in the Alfred Avenue/Seaton Avenue/Lily Avenue area with CCTV or dashcams could look at your footage you have from 3.00am – 5.00am on Sunday 10 March to see if you can spot any suspicious looking males. If so, can you let the Police know. It would also be helpful if anyone lives in the wider surrounding area to check also. It doesn’t matter how innocuous of trivial you may think it is, report everything. Let the Police decide and investigate as to whether it is relevant or not. The Police are stretched, and they need the help of our community if we are to track down the perpetrator(s) of these crimes. If you have any information, please ring 101. There is no need to have an Officer come to see you if that is your preference, just tell the call handler that when you’re on the ‘phone. I know it can be frustrating waiting for your call to be answered but the call centres are as understaffed as the police Officers on the street so please try and be patient. If you’d rather, you can contact the Police online if you follow this link: – https://services.northumbria.police.uk/online-services/tell-us-something/ There may be some of you who don’t feel comfortable contacting the police. If that’s the case, you can always contact me, and I’ll pass on the information. Tel: 07779 – 983656 or email me at: – E-mail: bill.crosby@northumberlnd.gov.uk Let’s see if we can all work together and put a stop to these incidents that are causing so much distress and fear in our community. Thank you.
  9. Hello everyone. It’s been some months now since my last blog, so I thought it was time I updated you on what I’ve been doing in that time. In February I attended a meeting to decide on an event organiser for the live event in Gallagher Park. I think it’s been well documented what happened there and East Bedlington Parish Council decided to go it alone and run the event. As Gallagher Park is in my ward I was always happy to support this event but was unsure as to whether I would be allowed to use my small schemes allowance as this was not a capital spend. This turned out to be the case and for me this was always a worry from the outset, hence my suggestion that we should try and attract external funding. To get around this problem I agreed to work with East Bedlington Parish Council to help pay for one of their capital schemes so that they could release the funds to pay for Northumberland Live. As it turns out, two Parish Councillors subsequently agreed to contribute to the event from their own pockets so, in the end, external funds have indeed been needed. It’ll be interesting to see if sponsors can be attracted for the next event … perhaps we Independents don’t have such bad ideas after all. The scheme I have agreed to help with is the upgrading of the play facilities in Jennings Field. Although this is not strictly in my ward it is just across the border and will be of great benefit to my constituents and their families who live in the nearby streets that are in my area. (Waverley Avenue, Roslin Park, Fontburn Road, The Oval, etc). Hopefully, work should be starting on that project soon. In May I met with Councillor Glen Sanderson (Portfolio Holder for Environment and Local Services), together with the Service Director for Local Services; I requested this meeting to discuss the playground facilities in Gallagher Park. As Chair of the Friends of Gallagher Park (FOGP), this is a subject I am very interested in. The gentlemen agreed with us that the facilities currently in the park leave a lot to be desired and they were extremely supportive of improvements taking place. To that end, NCC have said they will work with the FOGP to progress this project. They will look to agree the precise location and the scale/size of the facility towards the back end of this year and will undertake a procurement exercise to have a design/supplier in place ready to begin work at the start of the next financial year. This will be capital funding and will need cabinet approval, so the FOGP will be looking at other funding avenues to make it easier for NCC to invest in the park. All ideas will be greatly appreciated. In June I was asked if I would contribute to Bedlingtonshire Academy’s WW1 Legacy Project Battlefield Tour. I felt it was a great opportunity for the pupils who were attending from my ward to better understand what happened during that great conflict and I was happy to lend a hand. Recently I was asked to attend Stead Lane Primary School to have a look at their Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) playground area. It is in dire need of renovation and, in its current state, is not allowing the children to access a high-quality play area. Given the current concerns over childhood obesity I feel that it’s important to foster positive attitudes to fitness from an early age. Hopefully, a much improved EYFS play area in the school will achieve that aim and I was more than happy to lend my support to this venture. Following the tragic events of August 19 last year, petitions were submitted for speed deterrents on Rothsay Terrace/Victoria Terrace. I subsequently agreed to fund one Speed Indicator Display (SID) sign and Northumberland County Council confirmed that they would supply another, and I am pleased to say that both these SID signs are now in place. In the wake of this, I have been working closely with Isabel Easson to help her in organising an event to raise funds for a further speeding deterrent project. Her vision was to have a 1940’s style tea dance involving the more elderly members of the community who have very little social interaction with others and arrangements are now in place for an event to be held at Meadowdale Academy, Hazelmere Avenue, Bedlington on Sunday 19 August 2018; the date obviously commemorates the date of the incident but also happens to be Beth’s birthday. It will be a hard day for Issie but I am proud to have helped her with this and her campaign for road safety and witness how dignified she has been throughout this past year. These are the main things I have been involved in so far this year in Bedlington. I am also trying to address fly tipping down the woods below the Dene View/Poplar Grove area as well as parking issues in various locations, although I am pleased to say that the parking issue at The Oval seems to have been resolved with the completion of extra parking spaces at Foundry House. Once again, thank you for taking the time to read this blog and if you need to contact me you can email me at: bill.crosby@northumberland.gov.uk Tel No 07779 – 983656. If you are interested in the FOGP, we usually meet on the first Monday of the month at The Pavilion in Gallagher Park at 6.30pm. Alternatively, you can visit us at our Facebook page.
  10. Hello everyone. It’s been some months now since my last blog, so I thought it was time I updated you on what I’ve been doing in that time. In February I attended a meeting to decide on an event organiser for the live event in Gallagher Park. I think it’s been well documented what happened there and East Bedlington Parish Council decided to go it alone and run the event. As Gallagher Park is in my ward I was always happy to support this event but was unsure as to whether I would be allowed to use my small schemes allowance as this was not a capital spend. This turned out to be the case and for me this was always a worry from the outset, hence my suggestion that we should try and attract external funding. To get around this problem I agreed to work with East Bedlington Parish Council to help pay for one of their capital schemes so that they could release the funds to pay for Northumberland Live. As it turns out, two Parish Councillors subsequently agreed to contribute to the event from their own pockets so, in the end, external funds have indeed been needed. It’ll be interesting to see if sponsors can be attracted for the next event … perhaps we Independents don’t have such bad ideas after all. The scheme I have agreed to help with is the upgrading of the play facilities in Jennings Field. Although this is not strictly in my ward it is just across the border and will be of great benefit to my constituents and their families who live in the nearby streets that are in my area. (Waverley Avenue, Roslin Park, Fontburn Road, The Oval, etc). Hopefully, work should be starting on that project soon. In May I met with Councillor Glen Sanderson (Portfolio Holder for Environment and Local Services), together with the Service Director for Local Services; I requested this meeting to discuss the playground facilities in Gallagher Park. As Chair of the Friends of Gallagher Park (FOGP), this is a subject I am very interested in. The gentlemen agreed with us that the facilities currently in the park leave a lot to be desired and they were extremely supportive of improvements taking place. To that end, NCC have said they will work with the FOGP to progress this project. They will look to agree the precise location and the scale/size of the facility towards the back end of this year and will undertake a procurement exercise to have a design/supplier in place ready to begin work at the start of the next financial year. This will be capital funding and will need cabinet approval, so the FOGP will be looking at other funding avenues to make it easier for NCC to invest in the park. All ideas will be greatly appreciated. In June I was asked if I would contribute to Bedlingtonshire Academy’s WW1 Legacy Project Battlefield Tour. I felt it was a great opportunity for the pupils who were attending from my ward to better understand what happened during that great conflict and I was happy to lend a hand. Recently I was asked to attend Stead Lane Primary School to have a look at their Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) playground area. It is in dire need of renovation and, in its current state, is not allowing the children to access a high-quality play area. Given the current concerns over childhood obesity I feel that it’s important to foster positive attitudes to fitness from an early age. Hopefully, a much improved EYFS play area in the school will achieve that aim and I was more than happy to lend my support to this venture. Following the tragic events of August 19 last year, petitions were submitted for speed deterrents on Rothsay Terrace/Victoria Terrace. I subsequently agreed to fund one Speed Indicator Display (SID) sign and Northumberland County Council confirmed that they would supply another, and I am pleased to say that both these SID signs are now in place. In the wake of this, I have been working closely with Isabel Easson to help her in organising an event to raise funds for a further speeding deterrent project. Her vision was to have a 1940’s style tea dance involving the more elderly members of the community who have very little social interaction with others and arrangements are now in place for an event to be held at Meadowdale Academy, Hazelmere Avenue, Bedlington on Sunday 19 August 2018; the date obviously commemorates the date of the incident but also happens to be Beth’s birthday. It will be a hard day for Issie but I am proud to have helped her with this and her campaign for road safety and witness how dignified she has been throughout this past year. These are the main things I have been involved in so far this year in Bedlington. I am also trying to address fly tipping down the woods below the Dene View/Poplar Grove area as well as parking issues in various locations, although I am pleased to say that the parking issue at The Oval seems to have been resolved with the completion of extra parking spaces at Foundry House. Once again, thank you for taking the time to read this blog and if you need to contact me you can email me at: bill.crosby@northumberland.gov.uk Tel No 07779 – 983656. If you are interested in the FOGP, we usually meet on the first Monday of the month at The Pavilion in Gallagher Park at 6.30pm. Alternatively, you can visit us at our Facebook page.
  11. Hello everyone. I hope you all had a good Christmas and can I wish you all a happy and prosperous 2018. In December, I was pleased to learn that Stead Lane Primary School had taken delivery of their new outdoor classroom in the form of a Mongolian Yurt. This came about after I was invited to attend a meeting of the school’s PTFA where I was asked if I would contribute to the cost of an outdoor classroom for the school. I agreed that I would and I suggested the idea of a Yurt to the Head Teacher, Reuben Anderson, who embraced it wholeheartedly. I have to confess, however, that it wasn’t my idea; I borrowed it from the Head of Whitley Memorial Primary School, who was thinking about purchasing one to replace the classroom that was burnt down in the summer; this was raised in a conversation Councillor Russ Wallace and I had with her when we offered to contribute to the cost of the replacement classroom and I am pleased to say that Russ also contributed towards the cost of the Yurt at Stead Lane Primary School. I was happy to see it in situ when I attended the Christmas Fayre at the School, where I also had the honour of drawing the numbers for their Christmas raffle. This momentous event was reported on BBC Look North and Radio Newcastle and I think that we can be quite proud of the fact that the only Yurt in Northumberland (so I’m reliably informed) is located at a primary School in Bedlington East for pupils to enjoy for many years to come. I wish they’d had a yurt with a wood burner when I went to that school! Mr Anderson deserves a great deal of credit for his initiative. Last week I attended a full Council meeting which, for the first time, was being streamed live on social media. This can only be a good thing and the public can now see exactly how these meetings are conducted and possibly put faces to names that they have only heard about. Those of you that haven’t had a chance to see it can click on this link: https://youtu.be/YMNZstfU1FA At this meeting, a vote was required to approve the change in the Terms of Reference for the Strategic Planning Committee so that issues of strategic importance would be considered at county wide level rather than by Local Area Councils. The Labour Party opposed this, and on this occasion I agreed with them; therefore, when they called for a named vote, both Russ and I voted with the Labour Party against the proposal. The proposal was, however, passed by four votes. I have read somewhere that the Independents had voted with the Conservatives on this issue so I thought I would put the record straight. The benefit of being ‘Independent’ is that we can vote however we want in the best interests of Bedlington. Sometimes we may not all vote the same way but at least we can judge all issues on their merit and choose which way to vote, unlike those tied to a political party. Thanks again for taking the time to read this blog. Can I remind you that if you wish to contact me you can do so at: – bill.crosby@northumberland.gov.uk or telephone 07779 983656. I also hold a surgery on the 3rd Thursday of the month beginning at 6pm at East Bedlington Community Centre. Why not pop along for a chat?
  12. September saw the return to normal business and in the first week I was able to attend a full Council meeting at County Hall as well as the Parish and Town Council meetings at East Bedlington and West Bedlington respectively. Parish and Town Councillors are people from the local community who give up a lot of their free time in an effort to enhance the area in which we all live. Attending these meetings gives a good insight into the effort required to improve our town and it also allows members of the public to ask questions of the Councillors if they have any concerns. I would urge everyone to take advantage of these open meetings and experience local government and the influence you can have. To find the times of these meetings please visit www.eastbedlingtonpc.org.uk and westbedlington.org.uk. The following week I met with Marcus Weatherly, the new senior manager at Foundry House, and also present at this meeting was a representative from Stead Lane Primary School and the Road Safety Officer from NCC. This meeting was arranged as a result of concerns over parking at The Oval and during the meeting we were informed that a number of staff were being moved elsewhere and that 43 new parking spaces were being created. Hopefully, when this is done, it should ease the parking problems in the area. Marcus also assured us that efforts would be made to educate staff and visitors to use the spaces available within the confines of the building rather than the road. On Monday 18th, following complaints from residents of Terrier Close regarding parking at school drop off and pick up times, I, together with Councillor Allan Douglas, met with the Principle Programmes Officer for Highways Improvement. As a result of this meeting, a survey is to be carried out regarding parking at these times with a view to restrictions being put in place in the near future. On Thursday 21st, at my monthly surgery, I was visited by a resident regarding an issue in Sleekburn Ward. I was delighted that someone had turned up to see me and, rather than just refer the resident to that Ward Councillor, since the effort had been made to attend I was more than happy to help; I hope Councillor Gobin won’t mind. Speaking of other Councillors, I was delighted, together with Councillors Wallace, Robinson and Gobin, to support the renovation of the War Memorial in Bedlington through contributions from our Local Improvement Scheme, and I’m reliably informed that work will be starting soon and completed in time for Remembrance Sunday. Yesterday, Saturday 23rd, the Friends of Gallagher Park organised a litter picking session and fifteen people were kind enough to give up their time in an attempt to make the park look tidier. After a good two hours work, approximately twenty bags of rubbish were collected – an excellent effort. It will be a long-term project to tidy up the area, so hopefully it will be the start of many future efforts. During this time, we were also serving tea, coffee and cake in The Pavilion and £18,00 was raised to swell the coffers of the FOGP. A big well done to all concerned. Can I also thank Bedlington Terriers FC for their donation of free tickets for the next home game to everyone who helped out on the litter pick – what a fantastic gesture. Finally, can I remind everyone that I can always be contacted at bill.crosby@northumberland.gov.uk or by telephone on: 07779 – 983656. Thank you for reading.
  13. Following the tragic road traffic collision on Victoria Terrace in the early hours of Saturday 19 August, I was contacted by concerned residents regarding the safety issues around that stretch of road. Suggestions were made regarding traffic calming measures as this was considered to be an accident blackspot and, following an initial telephone discussion with Northumbria Police that weekend, I met with Superintendent Huddleston at Bedlington Police Station on Friday 25 August. The Superintendent was kind enough to fully brief me on the investigation to-date and together we visited the scene of the collision to examine the road and the conditions. We are fortunate in Bedlington to have quite wide roads that allow cars to pass safely even when there are vehicles parked at either side and this stretch of road is no different; in fact, whilst travelling from Ian Bell’s towards Bedlington Station, there is a good view with little obstruction of the road ahead. It is the opinion of the Police that the road conditions in no way contributed to this tragedy. Traffic calming measures were discussed but the issue is where to put them? I myself have witnessed cars speeding along Hirst Villas and then onto Stead Lane and there could be an argument for traffic calming measures there also. As you may be aware, we are constantly being told that there are no bad roads, only bad drivers, and prior to this incident, there have been only three recorded collisions over the past three years in that area, all low speed incidents and damage only. The period between an incident and a Crown Court appearance is always the most difficult and I would ask people not to fuel rumour and speculation as to the cause but rather let the Police get on with their job and investigate this incident fully. If anyone has any issues or concerns surrounding this matter, Superintendent Huddleston has asked me to pass on that he is more than willing to meet with anyone in order to address any matters arising. If anyone would like to take up this offer, please let me know and I will relay it to him. Our thoughts are with all the families affected by this tragic event.
  14. On Friday 14 July, together with other Town and County Councillors, I met with representatives from Arch regarding the TESCO site. We all gave an undertaking not to disclose what was said during that meeting, as there are still on-going negotiations, but I for one left the room feeling very positive about the project and it was encouraging to learn that everything didn’t come to a grinding halt with a change in administration. On Thursday 20 July, I met with Mike Jeffrey, the Green Spaces and Countryside Manager for Northumberland County Council. We met in Gallagher Park and, together with his team, we walked some of the trails through the park marking out where the signs needed to be placed in order for walkers to follow the various routes. To be honest, I’ve walked some of these routes in various other places following the signs and have never appreciated just how much work goes into planning a route through woodland, so I think that Mike and his team deserve some recognition for the effort they’re putting in. During my time with Mike and his team we discussed many things, to include why the toilets at the Pavilion are never open; the reason for this is apparently because the light sensors in the outside toilets don’t work and it would therefore be a health and safety issue if the public were allowed to enter whilst these are inoperable. Mike has assured me that he is chasing up the contractor to try and get this situation rectified as soon as possible, but we all know how hard it is to get a builder to come back and fix something once he’s been paid …! He is also keen to re-activate the Gallagher Park Steering Group so that we can get ideas flowing as to how to make the best use of this incredible space that we have on our doorstep. Following on from this, I have organised an informal meeting at the Pavilion for Monday 14 August at 6.30pm so that those interested in the long-term future of Gallagher Park can come along and have their say as to what they would like to see happen in the park; we’ve already had some good ideas via social media so please come along and get involved. Finally, it was a great day to be in the park for the Northumberland Live event on Saturday 29 July. It was good to see families there enjoying the day, sitting listening to good music and availing themselves of the various types of food and entertainment on offer. Some of you may not be aware that, although this is a free event for the community, there is a considerable cost involved and it would not have taken place without my predecessors making a financial contribution from their local improvement schemes together with other contributions from West Bedlington Town Council and East Bedlington Parish Council. Wherever your political allegiances lie, I hope you will agree that all parties who took part in helping finance this event deserve recognition and our gratitude and I would like to think that the current Councillors and the respective Town and Parish Councils can work together again in order that this event can take place next year.
  15. On 29 June, I sat on a Licensing and Regulatory Sub-Committee regarding a number of cases involving taxis. The panel was made up of three Councillors plus a reserve (me, as it was my first one) just in case one member declared an interest and withdrew. This, of course, happened in the first case we heard so I was thrown in at the deep end! It was an enjoyable experience but one taken very seriously as ultimately you could be deliberating on people’s livelihoods. On Monday 3 July, I attended a Community Safety Meeting at West Hartford Fire Station.; this is basically a meeting with Councillors and community leaders from the South East of the county in which issues of crime and anti-social behaviour are discussed. That same evening, I was invited to attend a meeting of the Friends of Gallagher Park. At this meeting I got the impression that this group was floundering. They had no chair or treasurer and the secretary was only there under sufferance. In my opinion, Gallagher Park is a vast untapped resource with loads of potential for recreational activity so, in order to try and give the committee new impetus, new officers were elected. I am the new Chair, Dawn has kindly offered to step in as treasurer and Keith Dalton will be the Secretary. We are looking for ideas as to what people would like to see in the park so, if anyone has any ideas (especially those people younger than the author) then please let me know. Following this meeting we have started a Friends of Gallagher Park Facebook page. Please feel free to join and submit any ideas, stories, photographs you might want to share concerning the park and any events etc that you would like to see there if possible. On Tuesday, I was at the East Bedlington Parish Council Meeting where I raised the subject of the omission of Sleekburn from the Bedlington/Cramlington/Seaton Valley LAC. The Council agreed with me that Sleekburn is part of Bedlington and as such should be included with the rest of the town. At the full Council Meeting on Wednesday, the decision to review the submission of the core strategy was debated; to withdraw the current plan and review the level of house building in relation to the surrounding infrastructure was, in my opinion, what the majority of people of Bedlington had been requesting over the past few years. As a result of this, I decided to vote with the current administration on this matter. Pitfalls were pointed out but the Leader of the Council assured us that this decision had not been taken lightly and had been taken with appropriate legal advice. Although not given a chance to speak on the subject of Sleekburn during the business of the Council owing to time restraints, Russ and I had met with the Business Chair prior to the meeting who assured us that, whilst he would not change it now, a review would be carried out in 6 months time. I don’t intend to stop fighting for this change as it appears that the residents of that ward have been forgotten and ignored and they feel that they belong with the rest of Bedlington. The next day, Thursday, together with other County Councillors, Town & Parish Councillors and representatives of the local community, I met with Superintendent Huddleston at Bedlington Police Station to discuss the recent crime and anti-social behaviour in the town. Also discussed was the closure of the Police Station after 8pm together with the withdrawal of CSO cover after 10pm. In fairness, there was nothing he could do about the two latter issues but he did assure us that he would fund some extra patrols in the town at weekends after 10pm for a short period of time. That’s a brief outline of the last two weeks and I could go on and on about what was debated/discussed. If anyone has any specific points they would like to raise then please contact me and i will do my best to answer them.
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