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  1. Adults across Northumberland are being offered the chance to improve their job prospects or train in a new discipline, thanks to Northumberland County Council’s Learning and Skills Service. A series of new courses have been announced in the recently published Learning and Skills Prospectus, covering skills based classes, job-related training, apprenticeships and employability improvement. The prospectus will be delivered to households across Northumberland over the coming weeks and includes details of over 320 courses which will be held in Northumberland County Council's Adult Learning Centres across the county. Northumberland County Councillor Wayne Daley, cabinet member with responsibility for adult learning said: “Learning is a never ending journey, everyone is unique so no matter where you are starting from we can help. If the New Year means a new start, getting trained for your dream job or learning a skill then please have a look through our prospectus. Our programme offers a wide range of high quality adult learning courses that can lead to recognised qualifications and improve people's confidence and skills while also providing a great way to meet new people.” From beginners to seasoned students, young mums to jobseekers or retirees the programme of courses is wide and varied. This year new courses have been introduced in digital skills, beauty, creative writing, step into construction (site and labourer based training programme) and FREE taster workshops in science related subjects such as muscles, bones & fitness and DNA & genetics. The specialist teams at Learning and Skills offer help and support to all learners but particularly welcome the chance to support those people with special needs, learning difficulties, or those who just need an extra boost to help them through. To download a copy of the prospectus visit www.northumberland.gov.uk/adultlearning
  2. Northumberland County Council’s ambitious scheme to replace more than 40,000 streetlights across the County will be completed by next summer. Northumberland County Council is entering the last few months of a three year project to replace all Northumberland’s street lights with more efficient LED lights and 16,000 columns which are reaching the end of their life in an ambitious scheme which will ultimately produce overall energy savings of around 64%, the equivalent of around £1.3m a year. To date, the scheme has seen around 32,000 new units installed, with a detailed programme for the rest of the works taking the project to completion for next summer. Councillor Glen Sanderson, Cabinet member for Environment and Local Services, said: “These lights have made a great improvement in many areas, improving both driver and pedestrian safety, as well as delivering good levels of energy savings. “This has been an extremely ambitious project which has presented a number of technical challenges, which our teams have been working tirelessly to overcome to complete all works. “We appreciate people’s patience and support during the project so far and we are working closely with our contractor to ensure that the remaining works are carried out swiftly, with minimal disruption to the residents of Northumberland.” For further information and to view the programme of remaining works in each community, click here
  3. The Tour of Britain cycle race which blazed through Northumberland in September has boosted the county’s economy by almost £4 million, an independent report has revealed. The world class cycling event saw an estimated 100,000 people lining the county’s roadsides with many flocking in from around the region to cheer on the top sporting stars, including UK favourite Mark Cavendish. Leader of Northumberland County Council, Peter Jackson said: “The financial boost to local businesses from the Tour was quite remarkable. For every pound invested, we saw over 10 times the return in the local economy and it was great to see the event so well supported within the county.” “ Not only did our County Council provide the main financial support to hold this stage of the race in Northumberland but our staff throughout the county did a brilliant job to make sure that the arrangements went so well.” The race featured 20 teams, with 120 riders from 24 different countries taking part. The event provided a huge opportunity to shine the international spotlight on the beauty of the county. International broadcasts of the race reached more than 150 countries including North America, Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa and reached 12 million viewers across Europe including the cycling powerhouse countries of France, Italy and Belgium. Councillor Cath Homer cabinet member with responsibility for culture, arts, leisure and tourism said: “The route showcased some of the most iconic and stunning scenery and landmarks in the county to an international audience. It put the county well and truly in the spotlight and I am sure this will inspire more people to visit the county in the future.” Stage two of the Tour, set off from Kielder and finished in Blyth passing through 28 communities and covering over 200 kms. Many shops, cafes, bars, hotels and restaurants along the route reported brisk business on the day. Jackie Sewell from Tomlinsons Cafe and Bunkhouse in Rothbury said: “The Tour of Britain was an outstanding success for local businesses, local people and visitors. “Rothbury was a shining example of bringing the community together, and the streets were packed with excited crowds. A day of events from best dressed bike painting; shop window dressing, face painting and local entertainers and local market stalls provided a real festival feel.” Economic Impact Highlights The Tour boosted the Northumberland economy by £3.891 million. Of the visitors who came to Northumberland 31 per cent stayed overnight with an average spend in the county of nearly £135 per group. Day visitors spent an average of £52 per group. An impressive 62 per cent said the day inspired them to take up cycling, or cycle more often in the future.
  4. Northumberland County Council’s animal welfare team is issuing a caution about selling pets online after picking up a stray dog, recently sold on Gumtree, that had been roaming the streets for over a week. The lurcher dog had been sold in good faith a month ago through the online advert site Gumtree however the new owner changed their mind about the purchase and turned the dog out on the streets. The two year old female dog was microchipped so the council was able to trace the previous owners who were not in a position to have her back. She is now being cared for by the animal welfare team and will undergo a period of rehabilitation to regain condition and confidence. She has also been checked over by a vet who has given her a clean bill of health, other than a few small cuts and scrapes. Gemma Fowle, animal welfare officer said: “ We received reports that a dog had been roaming the streets and we had been trying for over a week to locate her and bring her to safety. “ She was initially in the Bedlington area but made her way over a period of days down the railway track to Newsham and then on to the Blyth Golf Club area. We have been working with a small group of volunteers who have been trying to help us locate the dog by tracking her movements. “Last night we had reports that she was by the golf club. We set out at 8.30 pm and managed to catch her just after midnight. It was a long night but we couldn’t possibly leave her out over Christmas. She was cold, very timid and hungry and obviously traumatised by her ordeal but is now in the very best of hands. The good news is that we have already had interest from several people known to us who have offered her a good home. “ I would urge caution to anyone selling pets on Facebook or Gumtree and ask them to make very careful checks, including a home check, so they are as confident as they can be that their pet will end up in a good home.” Northumberland County Councillor Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for environment and local services said: “ Please think very carefully before you take on any animal. They take time, money, and commitment. If you have a pet and you are really unable to care for it then please contact your local animal rescue shelter for help in rehoming it. "
  5. Find out when your bins will be collected, when you can use libraries and leisure centres, and when council offices and services will be open this Christmas in a handy section on the Northumberland County Council website. A link from the home page will take you to quick links for bin collection days; County Hall and customer information centre opening times; times that you can phone the customer contact centre; library and leisure centre opening times; and Blyth Crematorium and register office availability. All bin collections across Northumberland will be two days later than normal during the week beginning 25th December, Monday collections on the Wednesday, Tuesday collections on the Thursday, and so on. During the week beginning 1st January 2018 all collections will be one day later than normal - Monday collections on the Tuesday, Tuesday collections on the Wednesday, etc. The day changes will affect both recycling and general rubbish bins. For more information about bins, waste and recycling in Northumberland, including a timetable of your collection days, visit www.northumberland.gov.uk/waste
  6. Northumberland County Council’s highways team has been shortlisted in the most improved performer category of the prestigious annual APSE performance networks awards These high-profile awards mark both the best performing authorities and the most improved for their achievements with categories being dedicated to each service area. APSE performance networks is the largest voluntary public sector benchmarking service across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Used by over 200 local authorities it leads the way in benchmarking local government services. Finalists are selected based on those authorities who have participated in performance networks and who have demonstrated continuous improvement in the services they provide. Northumberland’s highways team has been an active member of APSE for several years, and this year has been nominated for the 'Most Improved Council' in the highways category. Cllr Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for the environment and local services at the council said: “This is a really significant achievement for Northumberland at a national level. It recognises the hard work and dedication of our highways team and highlights the significant improvements that we are making to Northumberland’s roads.” APSE Chief Executive Paul O'Brien added: "We’re absolutely delighted with the calibre of finalists in this year’s APSE performance networks awards. As budgets continue to be squeezed, using data intelligently has now become vital to ensuring excellence in frontline service delivery. In today’s digital age information is power, and these awards highlight how invaluable high quality performance information is to strengthening local government’s frontline services." Winners will be announced at an awards event in Blackpool this week.
  7. If you fancy making an attractive and affordable Christmas wreath to adorn your front door this festive season, why not join one of the workshops at Hepscott Park Horticultural Skills Unit near Morpeth The sessions cost £12, will last approximately 1 hour 30 minutes and will run on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd December. To book onto a workshop ring: 01670 623911.
  8. Northumberland County Council is celebrating after the county picked up a prestigious award at the 2017 British Travel Awards. Northumberland received a Silver award for Best UK Holiday County/Region at the awards held in London on Wed (No 29). It’s the fourth year in a row the county has claimed the silver award, beating off stiff competition from tourist favourite the Lake District. Once again holiday hotspot Cornwall was crowned the category winner. The winners of the awards are chosen by a public vote, from consumers who have registered their interest to vote. Coun Cath Homer, cabinet member of culture, arts, leisure and tourism, said: “This is a huge accolade for Northumberland. The fact that it is decided on the back of a public vote shows the love people have for our stunning county. “To be up against, and beat, tourism stalwarts such as the Lake District shows just how far Northumberland has come as a tourist destination. As more people discover this once “hidden gem” the benefits to businesses and attractions in the county will continue to grow. “As the council, we want to congratulate everyone involved in making our county officially one of the best holiday destinations in the UK. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners to encourage more people to choose Northumberland for their next short break or holiday.”
  9. A charity calendar featuring dogs rescued in Northumberland is now for sale with all the proceeds going directly to four local animal charities. The calendar features twelve dogs that have been rescued by Northumberland County Council’s animal welfare team and partner charities. Each dog has their back story printed alongside their photograph. The printing of the calendar has been funded by the fines collected for dog fouling offences in Northumberland. All the proceeds will go to four local animal charities: S.H.A.K, Alexa’s Animals, B.A.R.K and The Dog’s Trust. One of the rescued dogs is Poppy who was found straying by a council Animal Welfare Officer. She was in a terrible condition; covered in fleas, very underweight and nearly blind. Since then she has received loving care and been found a new home where she now lives a full & healthy life. Northumberland County Council successfully prosecuted her owner for neglect. Another chosen dog Luna the lurcher was also found straying by a council Animal Welfare Officer. She was placed with the Charity S.H.A.K for much needed care and attention. Northumberland County Councillor Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for environment and local services said: " The council produces this calendar each year and it’s a great way for us and members of the public to support the local animal charities we work closely with and help them fund their fantastic work.” Stephen Wylie of the dog rescue charity S.H.A.K said: “We’ve had another successful year working alongside the council’s animal welfare team. Together we have helped dogs to be reunited with their owners, receive medical attention when needed and if necessary find new homes. The team has gone above and beyond on many occasions to help us with our work, and ultimately give the dogs the best future possible. " The calendars are available for a minimum donation of £3.99 from council information centres, through the Council website or by contacting the animal welfare team on 0345 600 6400.
  10. Northumberland County Council has welcomed fresh government support to bring back rail passenger services throughout south east Northumberland. The new Council Leader, Coun Peter Jackson, has committed to reintroducing direct trains between south-east Northumberland and Newcastle Central - with thousands of residents a day being transported along the 20-mile route between Ashington and Newcastle city centre. The government has now reaffirmed the Department of Transport’s support for the scheme, as part of Transport Secretary Chris Grayling’s new rail strategy that could see the reopening of some lines that were closed in the 1960s. This new Northumberland line is among those proposals across the country “currently being looked at and candidates for further consideration”. The next stage of the new Northumberland Line (GRIP 3) involves assessing and selecting the most appropriate options that deliver the council’s requirements and establishes the scheme can be delivered at the right cost. Work towards starting Grip 3 is being progressed and a report prepared for councillors to discuss in the coming weeks. Council leader Peter Jackson said: "We have always supported this ambitious proposal to help secure future jobs and growth across the whole county. "This is positive news from central government and reaffirms their support to work with us on this flagship project. “While there is still some way to go until passenger trains are running again, a great deal of work is happening behind the scenes which has our full support. It’s good to hear the government is backing our strategy. We have an ambitious and forward looking aspiration for our county and we will work with all partners and especially with the Government to deliver a prosperous future for everyone in Northumberland. ” Reintroducing passenger services to the current freight line could boost the local economy by up to £70m with more than 380,000 people using the line every year by 2034. Commuters and shoppers could speed between Ashington and the heart of Newcastle in as little as 38 minutes, with several new or rebuilt stations along the route linking towns to key areas of employment, training and leisure attractions as well as providing transport links across the wider region and the UK.
  11. Children’s Minister Robert Goodwill met with members of the West Bedlington Early Years Partnership in Northumberland on Friday (November 17) to hear from them about their experience of delivering 30 hours free childcare. The Minister visited Bedlington West End First School, one of the five providers who launched the Partnership, to meet with council, school and nursery staff involved in the government’s early delivery scheme which offered 30 hours to local families from September 2016. The minister also confirmed that councils will be able to bid for additional funding to support projects that will directly benefit their delivery of 30 hours. The Delivery Support Fund, worth over £8.5 million, will help councils work with childcare providers to deliver 30 hours to all parents who want a place, as demand continues to increase into the summer term. Children and Families Minister Robert Goodwill said: "I have heard excellent things about the delivery of 30 hours in Northumberland so I am delighted to have seen for myself how it’s working and to speak to providers involved with the West Bedlington Early Years Partnership. “I commend the way Northumberland has worked closely with providers to address the unique challenges it faces from being a rural area. Parents who previously may not have felt able to go back to work or increase their hours, are now getting the benefits of 30 hours of free childcare.” Northumberland is also taking the lead in sharing their learning from delivering 30 hours through the Department for Education’s ‘buddying’ scheme for councils. The scheme will partner high-performing councils, including more of the 12 early delivery areas, with those who are still in the early stages of delivering 30 hours. Councillor Wayne Daley, Deputy Leader of Northumberland County Council, and cabinet member for Children’s Services, said: “I know how important childcare is and this fantastic scheme allows us to make sure we give children the best start in life and support parents to work. “This visit was a great opportunity for Minister Goodwill to see an example of how this scheme is implemented and discuss the benefits and challenges we have faced along the way.” The Delivery Support Fund, which opened to council bids on Friday 17 November, will be available for a range of projects to help with delivery of the 30 hours scheme. These projects might include better business support for providers, developing effective networks locally like the West Bedlington Early Years Partnership, increased support for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) taking up 30 hours, or enhanced IT systems to allow for automated payments to providers. The fund could also be used to hold events or workshops for councils to share best practice. The West Bedlington Early Years Partnership was established with the support of the Early Years team at Northumberland County Council. It is made up of Bedlington West End First School, West End Preschool, Trinity Preschool, Trinity Out Of School Club and St Bedes RC Voluntary Aided Primary School. The Minister’s visit ended with a tour of the First School’s site, which is currently being redeveloped to expand its 30 hour provision, thanks to a successful capital bid from the Department. This build will rehouse West End Preschool and Trinity Out Of School Club, increasing the number of 30 hours places available. Staff spoke to the Minister about how the providers are working together to support accommodation needs, making sure parents can access the childcare they need while building work is underway. The 30 hours offer, which launched nationally in September for working parents of three and four-year-olds in England, can save families around £5,000 per year on the cost of childcare, helping them to balance their jobs and family lives. Thousands of families are already taking up the offer this term, and those who are eligible for places from January 1 are being encouraged to apply now and by November 30 to secure a place in good time.
  12. A new 20 mph speed limit has been introduced outside Stannington First School following the safety concerns of parents, teachers and local councillors. New 20mph signage has been erected outside the school advising motorists they are entering a reduced speed zone, while plans are in place to introduce double yellow lines and keep clear signs outside and around the school. Young pupils have also been involved in a competition to design a symbol and slogan to promote slow and safe driving past their school. The winning slogans have been included on a banner which is now proudly displayed outside of the school. Stannington First School is situated on Church Road and has over 100 pupils between the ages of 3 and 9 years on its register. The school has worked closely with local County Councillor, Eileen Armstrong, the parish council, Northumbria Police and Northumberland County Council to secure the 20 mph speed limit. Local county councillor, Cllr Eileen Armstrong said: “ Stannington First School is very close to the road. Parents and teachers were becoming increasingly concerned, about the speed of the traffic in the vicinity of the school and justifiably so. The introduction of the new speed restriction by the council makes Church Road a safer place for everyone. ” “ I would like to congratulate the winners on their designs for the new banner which will go a long way to help enforce this important message.” Research has found clear evidence that decreased traffic speeds reduce collisions and casualties. Collisions happen less often and when they do happen there is less risk of fatal injury.” Northumberland County Councillor Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for environment and local services said: “ Cllr Armstrong has worked hard with local people to get this scheme off the ground - it is a great idea and I’m sure it will be successful.”
  13. A mobile phone app which makes it easier for residents to report issues affecting their local community is being rolled out across the region. The mobile app, ‘MyStreet Northumberland’, was designed by the Safer Northumberland Partnership and Improving Croft and Cowpen Quay (ICCQ) following a pilot in the “12 Streets” campaign which focused on identifying issues affecting twelve streets in Cowpen Quay and putting in long-term solutions. Residents can download the new app and use it to access information on a number of problems such as anti-social behaviour, noise, litter, street lighting and roads all in one place. From here, app users can access advice or report specific incidents to the council or if they have information or concerns about crime and disorder where they live they can access advice via the app or they can contact their local neighbourhood policing team direct. Councillor John Riddle, chair of Safer Northumberland, said: “While Northumberland has low crime levels, we know there are issues that affect people’s quality of life and it’s important communities can easily access advice and report anything they’re worried about. “The app has already been successful, being downloaded thousands of times in its first year, and we’re delighted it’s being rolled out by Northumbria Police to other local authorities in the area.” The app is free to download onto iPhone, Android, and Windows devices by searching ‘MyStreet’ in the app store. People should always call 999 when it’s an emergency.
  14. Northumberland County Council has secured funding to further expand childcare provision for three and four year olds, increasing the overall number of places available for 30 hours of free childcare per week from September 2017. The national roll out to offer an additional 15 hours of free childcare to three and four year olds from all eligible families begins this month and supports the government’s commitment to give working parents of three and four years olds 30 hours of free childcare a week. Northumberland County Council has already successfully piloted the scheme from September 16 in rural areas, with over 600 families benefitting. The council has secured £2m extra funding allowing it to increase the amount of free places across four early year providers within the county. The additional funding will allow for a total growth in places which will see nearly 9,000 hours of additional free childcare available for families. The areas set to benefit from the investment include; Ashington, Bedlington, Blyth, and Seahouses. Bedlington Central Councillor Russ Wallace, who sits on the Cramlington, Bedlington and Seaton Valley Local Area Council, said: “I am delighted that Northumberland County Council has secured this additional funding to provide extra places for free childcare. “Not only will this help families throughout the county, but it means that there will be additional places in the West Bedlington Early Years Partnership and this will directly impact families within our local area and will form part of helping parents of young children return to or continue working.” Councillor Wayne Daley, cabinet member for children’s services at Northumberland County Council said: “The offer of additional hours of free childcare is very important to families with young children and I am delighted that Northumberland County Council has secured funding to increase the number of places of free childcare we can offer throughout the county. “This funding is very important in allowing the council to support even more working families with young children with their childcare costs.”
  15. The deadline is looming for community groups, charities and young people in the county to apply for funding from a much valued community grant scheme. Grants of up to £5,000 are available from Northumberland County Council to help deliver activities that benefit residents and communities - but applicants need to hurry as the deadline for the first round of applications is Friday 29 September. The council’s long running Community Chest Fund was improved and relaunched earlier this summer following consultation with local communities. One of the key improvements to fund is a new grant called ‘Help For You’ which is aimed specifically at the under 18s. Grants of up to £200 are available to help individuals in pursuing a particular ambition - whether it is sporting, musical or academic. Other changes to the scheme include: Community chest budgets will be managed and allocated by local area councils; The budget for each area council is based on the population living in that area; Local area councils are able to identify funding themes relevant to their communities; For local schemes there will be a £5,000 upper grant limit with a maximum award of 75% of the cost of any proposal; The countywide element of the fund has doubled to £60,000, with no upper limit but the maximum grant award of 75% of the project’s costs, and There will be two funding rounds each year. Leader of Northumberland County Council Peter Jackson said: “We’ve listened to the views of local communities and feel we have made a number of very helpful changes to the grant scheme to widen its appeal, including opening it up so that young people are eligible to apply. “We would like to see this fund providing support to the many valued local groups and voluntary organisations that are making a real difference in every corner of the county. If you have a project that you think could benefit please don’t hesitate to get in touch.” The community chest fund has been in operation in Northumberland since 2009 and over its lifetime 1,450 awards totalling £2.6million have been made to voluntary and community groups to develop projects that enhance the environment, improve health and wellbeing and strengthen communities. If you are not in a position to apply for funding this month, you can still apply at a future date. The second deadline for funding applications is 12 January 2018. To apply, applicants must fill out an application form. This can be done online or by downloading the form from www.northumberland.gov.uk. If you have any queries, please email iain.hedley@northumberland.gov.uk Find out all about the fund here.
  16. Northumberland residents are being asked to vote for their favourite Green Flag park - putting it in the running to be the nation’s favourite in the People’s Choice Awards. In July we found out that nine Northumberland parks had gained Green Flag Awards this year - marking them out as some of the UK’s very best parks and green spaces. Now members of the public can vote for the Northumberland Green Flag park that they think should be the whole nation’s favourite. Green Flag parks in Northumberland are: Ridley Park in Blyth; Doctor Pit Park in Bedlington; Alexandra Park in Cramlington, Hexham Parks; Carlisle Park in Morpeth; Castle Vale and Coronation Parks in Berwick; Plessey Woods Country Park near Bedlington; and Bolam Lake Country Park near Belsay. Councillor Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for environment and local services at Northumberland County Council said: “We have some exceedingly beautiful and very special parks in Northumberland - all with their own unique set of attractions. “In each you will find a range of opportunities to suit all ages and interests - from sports and play facilities - to areas where those who seek it can enjoy peace and tranquility. “I urge everyone to get behind their favourite park in Northumberland - giving it a chance to become one of the nation’s favourites.” To vote for your favourite Green Flag park go to www.greenflagaward.org Simply find your park on the map and click the vote button. Once you’ve voted, why not encourage others to get involved too. Paul Todd, International Green Flag Award manager said: “Following the huge success of #LoveParks Week, the People’s Choice Award is another chance to show how much your favourite park means to you. Make your voice heard and vote now.” Voting is open now and closes on 30 September, with the top 10 winning sites due to be announced on 11 October. Last year saw tens of thousands of people voting for their favourite park, with winners coming from all across the UK, from London to Lanarkshire.
  17. Residents and visitors to Northumberland will be given a rare opportunity to see some of the county’s hidden architectural treasures when the doors to many of its most historic buildings are opened to the public, free of charge. The Heritage Open Days event is taking place between Thursday 7 and Sunday 10 of September. The open days are free and fun and provide an excellent opportunity for people of all ages to explore the fantastic cultural heritage of Northumberland. A wide range of tours, events and activities are on offer. Dozens of attractions are taking part including the ever popular Cragside House in Rothbury. There will be the the opportunity to look around local churches, Morpeth Clock Tower and the Rothbury Trenches. There will also be the chance to look behind the scenes of Northumberland Archives at Woodhorn Museum and get a rare glimpse into the work that goes into preserving diverse collections which cover over 800 years of Northumberland’s fascinating history. Northumberland county Councillor, cabinet member with responsibility for culture , arts and leisure, Cllr Cath Homer said: “ This hugely popular annual event provides free public access to historic buildings and local landmarks, many of which are not usually open to the public. "It's an unmissable opportunity for residents and visitors to get a glimpse behind the scenes, and perhaps get a better understanding and appreciation of our county's rich cultural heritage.” Heritage Open Days is England's largest festival of history and culture, bringing together over 2,500 organisations, 5,000 events and 40,000 volunteers. To view a full list of this year’s attractions visit https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/
  18. Green fingered Northumbrians have done the county proud yet again as they collected a string of awards after impressing judges in this year’s Northumbria in Bloom awards. Dozens of towns, villages and businesses showed off their floral displays, summer planting and well tended parks and gardens in the competition which has seen communities and council staff pull together to show off local neighbourhoods at their best. The county did exceptionally well in the Towns category with Morpeth winning overall Gold for the bright displays that have produced a blaze of colour right across the town. Alnwick won Gold, Bedlington won Silver and Berwick and Hexham were awarded Silver Gilt. In the Large Towns category, Blyth won Silver and Cramlington won Silver Gilt. In the Small Towns category Ponteland and Seaton Sluice won gold with Seaton Delaval achieving bronze. Seaton Delaval won the Most Improved entry for enthusiastically taking on a number of neglected areas for transformation and for the hard work and vision of the community. The county’s villages also scooped a number of fantastic awards against tough competition. Ord near Berwick won the Large Villages category. Judges found the village to be pristine throughout with residents taking a great pride in keeping their neighbourhood spotless as well as caring for the many tubs and planters. There were celebrations elsewhere as Holywell and New Hartley won Silver and Seghill won Bronze in the Large Villages category. East Hartford won Silver in the Small Villages category and Lesbury won Silver Gilt in the Villages category. The popular Ridley Park in Blyth was winner of the Best Park award for its beautifully landscaped public space. Young growers in the county also got involved and Tweedmouth West First School in Berwick scooped the Growing Together for Schools award. Other Gold winners included Alnmouth Railway Station ( best bus/metro/rail station) The parish hall garden, Corbridge ( best Grounds of a hospital, university or public building) Ord Country Park ( best commercial premises) Berwick Bowling Club ( best sports ground) Woodbine Terrace, Corbridge ( best residential community). A number of very worthy awards were made for outstanding voluntary contributions. Neville Rutherford of Corbridge for his inspiring leadership of Corbridge in Bloom; Kenneth Thompson from Morpeth for his commitment to the ‘In Bloom’ entry and George Anderson for his contribution to the betterment of Ord Village Councillor Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for environment and local services at Northumberland County Council, said: “It is wonderful that the hard work and efforts of a few have made the towns and villages where we live such attractive places. We really do appreciate their work and congratulate everyone involved. ”
  19. The public are being invited to have their say on the next stage of plans for the Portland Park site in Ashington. Portland Park is Northumberland County Council’s major regeneration site in the heart of the town. The site is being delivered by Arch on behalf of the County Council which has already seen works start to create a new road network system designed to improve existing traffic issues within the town centre as well as to help pedestrians move round the town more quickly and easily. Arch and the County Council are organising two public consultation sessions being held to encourage as many people as possible to attend and have their say on what facilities they would like in the town centre. Those ideas and views are intended to be collected and developed to inform a new masterplan for the town, and will be shared again with the public in the near future. The two public consultation sessions will take place on Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st September, from 1pm-7pm at Unit 1, Wansbeck Square, Ashington NE63 9XL. The consultation material will be made available on-line after the public consultation events have finished, with the public also having the opportunity to provide comment electronically should they not be available to attend the sessions. Peter Jackson, Leader of Northumberland County Council said: "The Council is determined to work with local people to create a new centre to the town which the community can be proud of. In addition I can confirm that the County Council will deliver the £2.9 million make over of Hirst Park and that the County Council has committed funds to further develop the £190 million Ashington to Newcastle passenger rail connection. The future for Ashington and the surrounding area is definitely exciting." Cllr Richard Wearmouth Chair of Arch said: “We’re looking at potential community uses, how we can enhance the environment in the town and how we can attract business use. We want to involve local residents in giving their views on what they would like in their town centre, and start a new exciting chapter in the development of the town. We are confident that working with the people of Ashington we can create a fantastic new development for Ashington that people will be proud of".
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    Next steps for parking studies

    Parking studies and survey work has been taking place in the county’s market towns over the summer in order to help develop options for future parking needs in Northumberland, and the first stage has now been completed. Concerns about parking capacity are regularly raised with the County Council and the new administration has made finding a solution to these problems a high priority, with parking studies for the market towns of Berwick, Hexham, Morpeth and Alnwick being commissioned in order to get a clearer picture of capacity and usage of car parks in these areas. The first stage of survey work looking at actual levels of usage over the summer period has now been completed. Work is now being undertaken to seek the views and opinions of the local county councillors, town councils and other key stakeholders on the parking issues in their areas through a series of meetings during September, with the final report findings then being received by the Council in November. Councillor Glen Sanderson, Cabinet member for Environment and Local Services, said: “We need to have a close look at parking issues as we constantly hear that visitors and residents alike can’t find a car parking place when they want to shop and that causes real problems and is bad news for traders. “Despite the introduction of free parking some years ago, communities are often telling us that a lack of parking capacity is having a negative effect on their local economy and the sustainability of their towns. “We’re listening to these concerns and as a first step have commissioned a study to investigate the current car parking situation within each of the four main market towns where parking capacity has been identified as a key issue. “This will establish current patterns of use and enable us to factor in the future demand for car parking spaces so that we can fully understand what improvements are required now and in the future and look at what’s needed in terms of any new car parking sites. “The survey work over the summer has progressed well and we are now gathering the views and listening to the thoughts of key stakeholders to help inform the development of options on the current parking issues and parking needs in their local community. “Ultimately we want all our communities to prosper and have the right balance of sustainable parking for residents, visitors and businesses and this is the first step in making that happen.”
  21. Northumberland County Council has welcomed the Government’s announcement today of the preferred routes for the A1 Morpeth to Felton and Alnwick to Ellingham dualling upgrade. Following further development of their proposals Highways England have now identified the Green route option for Morpeth to Felton, and the Orange route option between Alnwick and Ellingham. Following a six-week consultation last year, three options were presented to residents and regional stakeholders for plans to widen the A1 between Morpeth and Felton, and one option to widen the A1 between Alnwick and Ellingham. The council has long campaigned for dualling of the A1 north of Morpeth - recognising the significant economic and other benefits for the county and wider border and north east regions. The improvements will mean the creation of a dual carriageway on the entire stretch of the route between Newcastle and Ellingham - providing additional capacity and improving journey times and safety. Cllr Peter Jackson, leader of Northumberland County Council said: “This is fantastic news for Northumberland and will provide very significant strategic and economic benefits. “Dualling will promote sustainable growth along the A1 corridor as well as improved connectivity with Edinburgh and the Lothians and with Tyne and Wear and other regions to the south. “Existing businesses will have better access to markets for their goods and services, and to sources of labour, and the dualling will also encourage new businesses to become established - creating new jobs and economic growth. “This announcement is a further confirmation of the Government delivering on its promises in Northumberland.” Councillor Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for environment and local services said: “We have been campaigning for dualling of this key strategic route for over two decades, and this announcement of preferred routes is the next important step to securing major improvements. “The ‘green’ route for Morpeth to Felton was strongly favoured by the council and so I am very pleased that this will be going forward. It addresses our concerns that the other routes would have had more impact on the A697 during construction. “The dualling is set to make significant improvements to road safety on the route, something I am also a very strong campaigner for, with the Green route between Morpeth and Felton offering the best alignment for improving safety. “We welcome the support of our MP who has worked so hard for this and look forward to working with Highways England as they progress this through the next steps.” Highways England project manager Nanette Hoyle said today: “We recognise the importance of this route and are delighted to announce the two options we are taking forward are the ones which the majority of people wanted in last year’s consultation. “Over the last few months we have worked hard to identify the best possible options by working through the feedback from the events, along with safety, economic and environmental analysis and we are excited to share our plans with local stakeholders, businesses and the community. “Work now continues, adding detail to the design for each of the dualling options and on planning how we will deliver them in a way that keeps traffic moving. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for taking part. There will be further opportunities to have your say as the schemes develop.” The green option between Morpeth and Felton includes building a new carriageway to the west of the existing road between Priest’s Bridge and Burgham Park. This option will improve safety along the route and will also have benefits during construction in terms worker safety and efficiency. The existing A1 will act as a local road once the scheme has been completed. The orange route between Alnwick and Ellingham involves upgrading the existing road to dual carriageway, widening either the east or west of the current road depending on the local features that need to be considered. This option also includes improvements at the South Charlton junction. Highways England will be holding further public consultation events in the area during 2018 - offering communities the opportunity to discuss in more detail the design of the preferred routes, discuss the planning application and the next steps with the project team. Further information will be released nearer the time. You can find out more about the A1 in Northumberland scheme at www.highways.gov.uk/A1inNorthumberland
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    Chimney Fire Safety Week 2017

    Northumberland County Council, along with Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) are once again supporting the annual Chimney Fire Safety Week running from 4th to 10th September. Chimney Fire Safety Week raises awareness of safe chimney fire use and information about how to prevent a fire occurring, highlighting the importance of having chimneys swept regularly and only burning suitable fuel. Chimney Fire Safety Week is held during September each year as the mornings get darker, the nights draw in and temperature begins to fall. It is this time of year that people with open fires and log burners start to fire up hearths and grates that may not have been used for several months. This is a time when it is vitally important to have the chimney swept to ensure it is clean and free from soot, leaves, birds’ nests and other debris. Carrying out the sweeping process will reduce the risk of a fire occurring or the build up of the poisonous gas, carbon monoxide, within the property. In the past twelve months, NFRS have responded to 60 chimney fires county wide, this involved the response of a total of 120 fire engines to safely deal with the fires. The aim of Northumberland Council and NFRS is to make Northumberland a safer place to live and create a safer working environment for firefighters. NFRS Chief Fire Officer Paul Hedley said: "NFRS and NCC have a long term aim of improving the wellbeing of residents in Northumberland and central to this is the prevention of fires and other emergencies, with the result of reducing death, injury and damage to property. “NFRS offer free home safety advice and, where necessary, the fitting of free smoke alarms. It is also recommended that anyone with an open fire, woodburner or gas central heating system install a working carbon monoxide detector to their property to create a safer living environment. For any further advice contact your local fire station." Councillor John Riddle, Chair of Northumberland Fire Authority, added: “Fire safety is of utmost importance and it is imperative to continually raise awareness about how to safely maintain and use fires within the home. “Northumberland Council and NFRS are committed to relaying the safety messages of Chimney Fire Safety Week to all residents in the region to help prevent chimney fires from happening and ensuring maximum enjoyment from your open fire or log burner in the home.” Key tips to help prevent chimney fires include: Ensure a fireguard is in front of the fire at all times. Spark guards can prevent serious property fires. If you have had a fire ensure you extinguish the flame before bed or leaving the house. Never use petrol or paraffin to light your fire. If you have a wood burner, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on fuel loading and air flow. If you plan to reopen an old fireplace, seek professional advice from a certified chimney sweep. If you suspect that you have a fire in your chimney breast follow the three safety rules below: 1. Get yourself and others out of the property 2. Call the fire service out on 999 immediately 3. Stay out of the property until after the arrival of the fire service. For further information, please visit: http://www.northumberland.gov.uk/Fire/Home.aspx#chimneyfires http://www.northumberland.gov.uk/Fire/Home.aspx#firefacts-didyouknow http://www.hetas.co.uk/ http://www.chimneyfiresafetyweek.co.uk/ https://woodsure.co.uk/
  23. The county took centre stage in the international spotlight today ( Monday 4th) as the Tour of Britain, the UK’s premier cycle race, rolled through the county giving residents the opportunity to see some of the world's top teams and riders competing on their doorstep. A carnival atmosphere swept across Northumberland as elite cyclists set off from Kielder for the second stage of Britain’s most prestigious cycle race. The riders passed through 28 communities, covering over 200kms, culminating in an exciting finish in Blyth. Kielder Water & Forest Park was filled with an electric atmosphere from early morning, with cycling fans coming along to get up close to the riders before the start of Stage 2 of the race which is being televised live in 120 countries. Northumberland County Council Civic Head, Cllr Anthony Murray and young future star of cycling Roisin Lally from Hexham waved the Northumberland flag to set the riders underway. Communities joined in the spirit of the occasion by decorating the route the distinctive red and yellow colours of the Northumberland flag while thousands of people turned out to welcome and cheer on the cyclists and give them a fantastic Northumberland welcome. A series of community events were held in towns along the route focussing on all things pedal powered to provide Northumberland residents, of all ages the perfect opportunity to have a go at cycling. Northumberland County Council has worked closely with race organisers Sweetspot, start sponsors Northumbrian Water and finish sponsors Blyth Town Council to bring the race back to Northumberland. It was last here in 2015. Leader of Northumberland County Council, Councillor Peter Jackson said : “It has been a fantastic day for the county. We are blessed in Northumberland with amazing natural scenery and wonderful people and it is great that we got to show this off to the competitors and all those who watched the race unfold on television. “In 2015 the Tour of Britain gave a real boost to the local economy - to the tune of £2.2m - and we’re confident this year’s stage which was entirely in the county, will be great news for businesses in Northumberland and our ever increasing tourism industry.” “ It was great to see so many spectators lining the route cheering the riders on and so many communities getting behind the event and decorating their towns and villages . I’d like to thank the organisers of the Tour of Britain, the emergency services and our council staff who all worked very hard behind the scenes to ensure the event ran smoothly and safely.” Jackie Sewell, owner of Tomlinson’s cafe and bunkhouse in Rothbury helped to co-ordinate efforts to decorate the town. She said: “ The Tour of Britain coming through Rothbury created an amazing atmosphere. It is such an iconic event and fantastic sporting spectacle and we are so proud to have been a part of it.”
  24. Residents and shopkeepers are being asked to look out for cheap illicit vodka after it was found on sale in pubs in the Berwick area. The illicit vodka has been passed off as Smirnoff Vodka and Glens Vodka. Generally the alcohol content of these products is below the legal and declared strength of the products. Tests have found industrial alcohol in a sample and also that the product is not vodka and as such it was mis-described. Now Northumberland County Council’s Business Compliance and Public Safety Unit, is warning people to be on their guard. Councillor John Riddle, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning, Housing & Resilience said: “We need retailers to protect their customers by refusing to buy in products like this. They don’t know what’s in it and are trusting that it is safe to drink. Our message is that you just can’t be sure and shouldn’t buy it. “Only buy from reputable suppliers who will provide the necessary paperwork that allows our officers to trace the supply back down the chain. We have made some shops put conditions on their licences controlling how they buy in spirits and the records they have to keep but can consider prosecuting others. We will look at taking licences away from the worst offenders.” David Sayer, Business Compliance and Public Safety Unit Manager, added: “We currently do not know the scale of this problem. “Trading Standards Officers have found illicit and counterfeit vodka in a number of pubs. The sellers have bought the bottles from itinerant sellers and have no paperwork to show who they bought it from. The fact that we are finding industrial chemicals in the samples tested shows that it is not even vodka. We suspect that industrial alcohol is being diluted and then sold as vodka.” Any shopkeeper or publican who has bought such vodka and still has it in stock can surrender it to Trading Standards, who also want to hear from retailers who have been approached by anyone selling the product and from residents who have concerns about product they have bought. Trading Standards can be contacted on 01670 623870 and ask for the Duty Officer. If a member of the public thinks they may have bought fake vodka from a shop or a pub or club, they should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506
  25. Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) and the Council’s Public Protection Teams will be offering businesses safety messages as part of the National Fire Chiefs Council UK Business Safety Week 2017. The week runs from 11th - 17th September and aims to make sure businesses and their staff have the information they need to prevent, protect and respond to fire incidents in the workplace. Organisations can also access information on how to comply with the legislation that controls how their business is run. The week has been scheduled to run at a time when many businesses will be recruiting extra members of seasonal staff in the run up to the Christmas period. Head of Fire Safety with NFRS Craig Ducat said: “New recruits may not have the same level of fire safety awareness as permanent members of staff, and may not be aware of the steps needed to protect themselves, their customers and colleagues. “We’ll also be offering businesses input from our Public Protection Teams and traders will be able to discuss current issues and find out where to go for advice if they need it in future. “The week is also a good opportunity to remind employers of the need to review fire risk assessments and training and make sure existing staff know the importance of fire safety.” Across the country fire services will be asking businesses to ensure they have taken action to prevent fires in the workplace, take action to protect themselves from arson and make sure all staff know how to respond appropriately in the event of an incident. Northumberland County Council wish to promote the advice available to businesses regarding regulations, through a series of ‘drop in’ sessions. Business representatives will be able to speak to regulatory inspecting officers from Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, Northumberland County Council’s Trading Standards, Licensing and Environmental Health Services which will be held at: West Hartford Fire Station on September 11th from 9am-1pm Hexham Fire Station on September 12th from 9am-1pm Pegswood Fire Station on September 13th from 9am-1pm Alnwick Fire Station on September 14th from 9am-1pm Councillor John Riddle, Chair of Northumberland Fire Authority, added: "I’m delighted that we’re again working with small and medium size businesses to help them ensure that they are able to operate in a way that is safe from the terrible effects of fire. “These businesses make a huge contribution to our economy and local communities and we want to help them to do this in a sustainable and safe way." Business representatives can find advice on fire safety in their business on the NFRS website by searching for “fire safety” via www.northumberland.gov.uk or by phone to Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service on 01670 621140 or via firesafety1@northumberland.gov.uk
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