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Bill Crosby

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Bill Crosby last won the day on January 11

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  1. Between Christmas and New Year I was contacted by a resident of Heritage Gardens regarding a letter that had been received from Northumberland County Council (NCC) on the subject of removing trees from Gallagher Park that bordered certain streets, namely Newby Close, Cragside Gardens and Stirling Drive. The concern was that the trees are a useful habitat for the endangered red squirrel and encourage the squirrels to come into the garden which this particular resident enjoyed. The letter was dated 24 December 2020 and was asking for responses by 8 January 2021 as work was due to start the following Monday 11 January 2021. I felt that this wasn’t giving residents enough time to be consulted on their opinions so I wrote to NCC to get this work delayed until a proper consultation had been carried out. Following this, I then wrote and hand delivered letters to all the properties that would be affected in the streets that were mentioned in the letter asking them to contact me with their views. The Friends of Gallagher Park, of which I am chair, have been trying to help increase the red squirrel population in the park and so this was quite a concern to me also. I am pleased to say that a considerable number of residents took the time to write to or telephone me with their views and I’d like to thank all those who did so. As with everything there were differing opinions, some wanting the trees removed and those happy to retain them as it encourages the wildlife to visit on a regular basis, and I have passed all of these comments on to NCC. As a result of highlighting this on social media, I was also contacted by residents of streets in Bedlington Central Ward who had received similar letters from NCC and also had opinions to share; my colleague, Russ Wallace, has similarly taken the matter up with NCC. All this has culminated in a response from NCC to the effect that the work will not go ahead as had been planned and that a more thorough consultation will be undertaken with a view to listening to residents concerns. I understand that some work will need to be done as the park does require some form of tree management, but hopefully a compromise can be reached and avoid this “one size fits all “ approach.
  2. Following the consultation on the Northumberland Line the County Council has launched another consultation on the budget proposals for 2021-22. In the current financial year the Council is forecasting a modest deficit due to the additional and unexpected spend linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. Further information on the budget proposals can be found in the link at the foot of this piece but I would also like to share my own views. Like any organisation the Council can set a balanced budget by increasing its level of income or reducing expenditure. Increasing income is always welcome but it very much depends on the source. For example introducing car parking charges in areas that don’t have them is not something I would support. Such a proposal or something similar would be totally unacceptable as it should not be residents that are milked as a cash cow given the rises in Council Tax in recent decades and the current challenging economic conditions. What the Council needs to focus on is other ways to raise income such as the sale of assets that are no longer required. These could be held by the Council or Advance Northumberland and would provide a boost to income that will help cover the extraordinary costs associated with coronavirus. What the Council also needs to seriously look at is its own cost base and whether it simply needs to stop certain things or reduce what is delivered. Councillor Russ Wallace in a recent post highlighted that the Council has an ‘International Team’. As a Councillor of three and a half years I have little knowledge of what that team does or of any benefits. Information online suggests “It will lead to the introduction of joined-up health and care in state-of-the-art facilities in China.” Whilst this sounds extremely laudable is does beg a number of questions including why the second largest economy in the world needs investment from Northumberland for health facilities. More significantly whilst myself and Councillors Robinson and Wallace are fighting for the crumbs from the table for the town centre it is ludicrous that money is being made available halfway around the world. I would therefore argue that this project should be placed under the microscope and if the benefits cannot be demonstrated to Councillors it should be scrapped. Another pot of funding which is a cause for concern is the money that is made available to Councillors for small schemes. Whilst I endeavour to spend the £15,000 I receive every year in the best way possible I am not convinced that it has always been the case in previous administrations or in the rest of the County. Under the former Labour administration I recall that money that should have spent in Bedlington ending up in Ashington. And just recently a Councillor from elsewhere tried to use the money for resurfacing works in his own street. Not only is that fundamentally wrong but it is also the type of scheme that should be part of the Council’s core budget. Reducing the allocation from £15,000 per annum to £7,500 will not only force all Councillors to think much harder but it would also save up to half a million pounds per year. That is a hugely significant sum which can be achieved for very little impact and should be looked at in any case given that some Councillors appear to stockpile the funding over 4 years then rush to spend it with questionable outcomes. A final proposal is to freeze Councillor allowances for 2020/21. The pay of MPs has been frozen as has pay in much of the public sector including local government. It is therefore inconceivable that Councillors should receive any kind of increase in such circumstances. Please take part in the survey and put your views forward. In my opinion it is about cutting unnecessary costs rather than expecting residents to foot the bill that should be the Council’s focus. https://haveyoursay.northumberland.gov.uk/communications/2021-22-budget-consultation/?fbclid=IwAR3XCl1ONb-SoKYTlxh5djpoMspJyccgLcFsWF3C94Sciu-VXsoD3AFTp8A
  3. I am delighted to be supporting Contract Gym and Fitness in Bedlington Station who again are delivering a Christmas Gift Give Away. Gym owner, Lindsey Jordan, is behind the scheme which is now in it’s third year. Lindsey and her team have been collecting donations of nearly new toys and clothes, as well as unwanted gifts since October. Over thirty less well off families have been supported in each of the last two years and even more are expected to benefit this year with the gym overflowing with donations. They include bikes, games, dolls houses, scalextrics, and much more for children and adults. The Give Away takes place on Sunday 6th December at 4pm and is open to any family in Northumberland that need extra help at Christmas. Track and trace details must be provided and the numbers entering the gym at any one time will be limited in line with Tier 3 restrictions. It is also requested that people “Only take what you need to allow others to do the same.” This is a brilliant scheme from a local business that despite having a difficult year of trading is still giving something back to the local community. Lindsey has done an amazing job and I would to thank her for all the smiles that she will put on children’s faces on Christmas morning.
  4. There have been a lot of positive noises recently regarding Bedlington once again having a railway station. The detailed consultation taking place is a part of that as is the £1m invested in site investigations by the County Council. I am old enough to remember catching a train from Bedlington Station and talk about passenger rail services returning to Bedlington goes back decades. It is something I can certainly recall from the 1990s. The car was king in the three decades before that as more roads were built to accommodate the growth in ownership. However, it became clear that rail needed to be looked at again as congestion on the roads increased. I did think that the Labour government elected in 1997 would have taken the opportunity to repay the faith of North East voters who returned 28 Labour MPs out of a total of 30: Wansbeck and Blyth Valley among them. But it didn’t happen and the efforts of the then Wansbeck MP, Denis Murphy, were rebuffed time and time again. That one of Blair’s Transport Secretaries was a North Tyneside MP makes it even more surprising that no progress was made, and by 2010 when Denis Murphy stood down, the only passenger train that had chugged along the tracks was a special charter to see benefits that have yet to be realised. Since then I have picked up on the odd muttering from the current Labour MP but nothing that convinced me that Bedlington would again have a railway station. Given that the end of the line is Ashington, I assumed that the tub thumping would be incessant and heard across Wansbeck from Cambois to Clifton. But I do sense that a funding decision is now close. I took part in a visit from the previous Transport Secretary to Bedlington Station in 2019 along with my Independent colleagues, Councillor Robinson and Councillor Wallace. The current Transport Secretary has posted a video of support over the weekend. I am not too concerned about who politically is due the credit and whether the current drilling of bore holes will have more impact than a conversation in a smoke-filled room 25 years ago. Bedlington as always is my only focus. However, that it appears the funding will be confirmed under a Conservative County Council and by a Conservative Government must be one of the biggest ironies in Northumberland’s political history. A missed opportunity for Labour is a huge understatement in those circumstances. Little wonder the town returned three Independents in 2017 to work with whichever party took control and to ensure a better Bedlington.
  5. The last few days have been dominated by the Government’s decision not to provide free school meals this week. Given coronavirus and the uncertain economic outlook, I do believe this to be the wrong decision and much more thought should have been given to the issue. The Government has had since the summer to come up with a plan for this half-term. If they are arguing that free school meals are not the best way to provide support, then alternatives should have been explored. As that hasn’t happened, free school meals should have been provided to those that would normally receive them, but I am also concerned for those families that don’t qualify and have seen their incomes fall dramatically. The County Council’s handling of the situation has been equally poor. Other local authorities have offered a voucher scheme across their whole areas but this hasn’t been the case in Northumberland. The Tory administration and Senior Officers have seemingly been unable to agree to this, which I find staggering and something which I am beginning to wonder may be the problem with making investment available for the town centre. Now, instead of a voucher scheme, Councillors have been allowed to make up to £2,000 available from their Member’s Allowances, but since this was only announced on Sunday it didn’t really give anyone the chance to think about how to roll out something really fit for purpose. If any group needs specific support then please do get in touch and I will be happy to assist with the funds that are available to me. That said, one scheme for the whole county would have been much better and is an absolute must for the Christmas holidays. The Government and the County Council have to be more joined up on this and not rely on the fantastic generosity of the numerous Bedlington businesses and voluntary groups that have stepped in this week. My thanks to all of those involved, which once again demonstrates Bedlington’s fantastic community spirit.
  6. As many of you will be aware, Cambois Primary School suffered a break in last month which caused significant damage and resulted in IT equipment used by pupils being stolen. It was a shocking incident and Councillors Robinson, Wallace and I, were united in wanting to do something to help. Having spoken to the Headteacher we agreed to each provide £500 from our Councillor allowances. This £1 500 will help to ensure that the school can replace equipment as quickly as possible and also provide more opportunities for children to be learning IT skills. I would like to think this is a small contribution to the fantastic community spirit that was shown in response to what happened. I was pleased to see on this occasion that the perpetrator was quickly apprehended by Northumbria Police and given a custodial sentence. I do hope that the individual in question reflects on the disgust that the local community felt about his mindless actions.
  7. Yesterday full Council saw Glen Sanderson elected as the new Council Leader with a new Deputy also in place alongside some changes in the Cabinet. Hopefully this will be the beginning of some normality after weeks of upheaval that has got in the way of delivering for residents. On that very issue of putting residents first, Russ Wallace asked a question about whether the current administration were in agreement about providing funding for leisure facilities in Bedlington given that Newbiggin Sports Centre has recently had £1.5m approved from the Council pot; great for Newbiggin but what about Bedlington was the point. The response from the Cabinet Member was an extremely positive one and in-line with our previous discussions about the need to include leisure in the town centre redevelopment. Bedlington was additionally recognised as a town that had been forgotten and there is a definite commitment from the current administration to address a fact that we all recognise. What was less positive, however, was an intervention from the Labour Leader, who failed to take the opportunity to offer any support for Bedlington and instead was more concerned about asking who had written the response for the Cabinet Member. A FOI request is apparently going to be submitted to find out and I can only assume that the Labour Leader thinks officers at the Council have nothing better to do at the minute than deal with something that has never previously been queried in my three plus years as a County Councillor. So, yet again, it appears that Labour are simply not prepared to prioritise Bedlington. Well, there is no need for anyone to submit a FOI request to confirm something that we already know!
  8. 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. View on Councillor Crosby's Blog
  9. 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.
  10. 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. View on Councillor Crosby's Blog
  11. 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.
  12. 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. View on Councillor Crosby's Blog
  13. 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.
  14. 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!
  15. 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.
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