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Found 148 results

  1. Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) is to take up the baton of promoting mental health awareness across the county. The Our Blue Light Torch relay is making its way across the UK’s emergency services and on Saturday, September 2 the baton will be handed over by bike from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service to NFRS, along with colleagues from Northumbria Police. Our Blue Light started in the north west of England with the specific aim of raising mental health awareness across all emergency services including fire, police, ambulance, search and rescue, the Prison Service and the NHS. The arrival of the torch relay heralds the start of a week of NFRS awareness raising events in Northumberland, including a cycle ride, demonstrations of the service’s swift water rescue techniques and a walk from Craster to Bamburgh, which people are welcome to attend. At the end of the week the torch relay will pass to colleagues from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service and will also make an appearance at the Great North Run. Station Manager Andy Davison from NFRS said: “Recent high profile incidents in London and elsewhere have really highlighted the work of the emergency services and the challenges and stresses we face on a daily basis. “While the service already offers a range of support to promote both physical and mental wellbeing, it’s important we continue to realise that mental health issues can affect everyone and this relay is a great way of getting the message out there.” Councillor John Riddle, Chair of Northumberland Fire Authority, added: “While working in the fire service is one of the most rewarding jobs, by its very nature it can be stressful. “Their health and welfare is an absolute priority and we are delighted to be involved in this torch relay and awareness raising events.” Anyone interested in joining the awareness raising walk on Thursday, September 7 can contact Andy Davison on (01670) 621186 or via [email protected] More information on the work of the charity is available via www.ourbluelight.com
  2. Up to 2,000 homes and businesses could benefit from funding to provide superfast broadband to more Northumberland communities. Through the iNorthumberland programme, Northumberland County Council and BT have agreed a fund of £2.2 million to bring the high-speed technology to some of the most expensive and technically difficult to reach communities in the county. The new iNorthumberland Community Broadband Fund works with a Community Fibre Partnership programme in which communities not currently in any fibre broadband plans can partner with Openreach, the local network business which is part of BT Group, to get superfast broadband in their area. These communities can now apply to use the new iNorthumberland fund, which can be matched by up to 50 per cent of additional private funding, on top of Openreach’s investment. If fully matched, the value of new broadband schemes could be more than £4 million. The fund will offer up to £2,000 matched funding per premise for a superfast broadband connection or up to £2,500 for ultrafast - with a maximum contribution available to a single community capped at £100,000. Each community will need to have a nominated person or organisation to apply for inclusion in the scheme. They will be responsible for getting a community fibre broadband quote from Openreach and also required to arrange payment of the community’s contribution to the scheme when the contract is agreed. Cllr Nick Oliver, cabinet member for corporate services at Northumberland County Council, said: “I am really pleased that we have been able to agree the funding for this scheme, and to get the ball rolling for a number of communities who are geared up to sign contracts, and get work underway. “We know that there is a high demand amongst households in these more hard to reach areas, and also that a number of businesses are struggling to sustain their current business models due to connectivity issues. “Securing schemes through this funding will help to increase access to services and allow greater adoption of digital services for rural residents. It will also help to grow the economy by both supporting existing businesses and encouraging new ones to become established in Northumberland.” By the end of this year the iNorthumberland programme will have delivered superfast broadband to 93 per cent of homes and business in the county - and it is envisaged that through this new community fund it could reach close to 98 per cent. These final premises are in some of the most rural and dispersed communities in Northumberland and providing connectivity to these areas has been both technologically challenging and costly. The iNorthumberland team has been working with BT, Openreach and local communities and groups across the county with a view to progressing with this scheme, and some communities are already gearing up to sign contracts. Some of the first communities set to benefit include Nunnykirk, Stanton near Netherwitton, Bolam, Pauperhaugh and Styford. Steve Haines, managing director of next generation access for Openreach, said: “It is great to be able to work with Northumberland County Council and communities from across the County to find a fibre broadband solution. “Openreach is committed to making fibre broadband as widely available as possible for households and businesses. The technology really does have the ability to transform the way people interact online.” Simon Roberson, BT’s regional partnership director for the North East, added: “This additional fund is quite literally going to help superfast broadband go that extra mile, reaching communities that would otherwise be unlikely to benefit from faster broadband speeds. This is fantastic news for Northumberland.” The iNorthumberland team will liaise with communities who have previously been in touch with the council or BT to support them through the process. Those who are interested will need to register with the iNorthumberland team, who will be able to provide support in completing documentation and starting the process. As well as the 50:50 funding option, there could be further opportunities for areas to become connected. In instances where Openreach cannot provide a quote under the criteria of the fund, there will be secondary funding within the scheme which could be used to seek alternative network solutions, such as fibre via a different network provider, fixed wireless or mobile 4G. The funding for the iNorthumberland Community Broadband Scheme has been made available due to efficiencies in the first phase of the iNorthumberland programme. iNorthumberland, a partnership between Northumberland County Council and BT, has already made fibre broadband available to more than 55,000 premises across the county. More than 40 per cent of Northumberland households and businesses able to upgrade to the new technology have already chosen to do so - a figure which is among the highest levels of take-up in the UK. BT was awarded the iNorthumberland contract in April 2013, whilst the second phase contract was signed in June last year. More than £29 million is being invested in the programme area by Northumberland County Council, the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) fund, BT and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). For further information and details of how to contact iNorthumberland visit www.inorthumberland.org.uk
  3. Getting excited about the Tour of Britain coming to the county? Feeling inspired to go cycling - but don’t have a bike ? We’ve got the answer ! If you are over 18, live or work in Northumberland and would like to cycle more but don't have a bike - you can borrow one for just £25 a month. The Active Northumberland adult cycle loan scheme is a the perfect way to get back in the saddle without having the expense of buying a new bicycle. And with the school holidays underway, it’s a perfect way to enjoy Northumberland with the family. If after the month is up you would like to purchase the bike, you will be eligible to a discount which you can pay back over spread payments. Alternatively, you can purchase a refurbished bike through our cycling partner Watbike. Northumberland County Councillor, Cath Homer cabinet member with responsibility for leisure said: “ With less than a month to go until the Tour of Britain, the UK’s biggest cycle race passes through the county, excitement around the event and the sport is starting to build. “ Cycling is an activity that can be adapted for all ages and fitness levels. It is also growing in popularity. Many people are getting on a bike for the first time, and those who already cycle are cycling more often. We hope the arrival of the Tour and our bike loan scheme will inspire more people in Northumberland to cycle more often. ” Cycles can be loaned from Prudhoe Waterworld, Blyth Sports Centre or Concordia in Cramlington. To find out more log on to www.activenorthumberland.org.uk or call 01670 542222 . You will need proof of your address and photo ID to hire a bike. Watbike in Ashington also hire out bicycles for £25 for 10 days. Tel 01670 522111
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    Get the inside track by joining VIP club

    A new, FREE online VIP club has been launched for people who want to get the inside track on the Tour of Britain cycle race which will be speeding through Northumberland in just two weeks time. Members of the Tour of Britain VIP Club will be the first to find out the latest race news, entertainment and view interviews while also being in with a chance of winning some great prizes. Those joining the group will have the opportunity to enter into a prize draw to win a 3 night break for 4 in one of Kielder Water & Forest Park’s beautiful lodges and VIP passes for the start and finish of the Northumberland stage of the Tour will also be up for grabs. On Monday September 4, the Ovo Energy Tour of Britain, the UKs biggest and most prestigious cycle race will arrive in Northumberland The county is hosting an entire stage of the race including an exciting start in the heart of Kielder and a dramatic finish on the coast at Blyth. It will pass through 28 communities covering 211 kms along its route through the county. 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. Northumberland County Councillor, Cath Homer, cabinet member with responsibility for leisure said: “There is a great amount of local interest in the Tour of Britain. Our VIP group aims to bring residents together to share stories, highlight community events and activities and enable us to provide all the latest information about the race and the route.” To claim free membership to the Tour of Britain VIP Club, visit nlandvip.club and join this free facebook group.
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    Flying the flag for Northumberland

    Hundreds of flags will soon be flying over the streets and roads of Northumberland as the countdown continues to Britain’s biggest cycle race. Spectators across the county will have the chance to see some of the world’s top riders during the Northumberland stage of the 2017 OVO Energy Tour of Britain on September 4 which starts in Kielder Water & Forest Park and finishes in Blyth. To guide both riders and spectators, over 100 flags will line sections of the route, which passes through 28 communities and is more than 200km long. As well as the flags there will be over 130 boards, 36 welcome banners and 12 national Tour of Britain banners installed. County Council Highways staff are busy installing the flags on lamp-posts in the county, with all flags expected to be up any day. Northumberland County Council has worked with start sponsors Northumbrian Water, finish sponsors Blyth Town Council and race organisers SweetSpot to bring the race to the county - and excitement is mounting with just over a fortnight to go. All of the top five teams in the current UCI WorldTour rankings – Quick-Step Floors; Team Sky; BMC Racing; Movistar Team and Orica Scott – will be taking part in the race. Northumberland County Councillor Richard Wearmouth, cabinet member for economic development, said: “With just days to go the excitement is really building and it’s great to see the infrastructure starting to appear along the race route.. “In 2015 the Tour of Britain gave a real boost to the local economy - to the tune of £2m - and we’re confident this year’s stage which is entirely in the county, will be great news for businesses in Northumberland. “With 115,000 people lining the route last time, many from outside the area, as well as live coverage of the whole stage on ITV4 it really is a fantastic opportunity for our communities to showcase everything that is great about this county.” David Hall, Head of Leisure, Strategy and Transformation at Northumbrian Water said: “We are counting down the days until the Tour of Britain comes to Northumberland and are busy readying Kielder Dam in preparation for the launch of Stage two. “We are proud to have such a prestigious event here in our county and to play our part in making it happen. It’s sure to be a fantastic day for all involved and something that will live long in the memory of those who get to see and experience it.” Councillor John Potts, Mayor of Blyth Town Council, said: “In 2015 when the cycle race came to Blyth the town was buzzing with excitement. Blyth Town Council is supporting the event again this year and hope the whole town gets involved in decorating the streets to show Blyth at its best. “The public will have great opportunities to see the cycle racers as they speed through the town and the last kilometre from Broadway to Waterloo Road where the race will finish will be truly exciting. “In addition, the velodrome, which will be situated at High Street car park, was very popular last time with children and adults alike. “This international event generates a huge amount of publicity which can only be of benefit to all of us. Come to Blyth to see the race.” Full Northumberland route details can be found at www.nlandtob.com
  6. A much valued community funding scheme has been improved and relaunched by Northumberland County Council. One of the key improvements to the authority’s Community Chest Fund is a new grant aimed specifically at the under 18s. Under the new plans there will be a ‘Help For You’ scheme for young people. Grants of up to £200 will be available to help individuals under 18 in pursuing a particular ambition - whether it is sporting, musical or academic. Previous local and countywide elements of the community chest have been retained following a review and the authority is committing £375,300 this year to the fund. For local schemes, there will be a £5,000 upper grant limit with a maximum award of 75% of the cost of any proposal. These will be managed and allocated by Northumberland’s five local area councils. Each local area council will also have the flexibility to identify particular priority themes which are seen as particularly relevant to their communities. For the countywide element, the pot has been doubled to £60,000. There will be no upper grant limit, but the maximum grant award will be 75% of the project’s costs. Leader of Northumberland County Council, Peter Jackson said: “We are delighted to relaunch this much valued community funding scheme. We know that it has been of great benefit to communities across the county and wished to make sure that this benefit is enhanced in the future. “We have listened to views during a review and feel that we have made some very helpful changes. One of the most exciting improvements is that we have widened the appeal of the fund to the younger generation. We have introduced a grant specifically dedicated to individuals under 18s, called Help For You. This is aimed at assisting young people to pursue their ambitions which could be sporting, musical or academic. “We have also ensured that there is a consistent approach to assessing projects across the county, with the community chest budget managed and allocated locally by each area council and based broadly on the population living within that area.” 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. Key features of the scheme are: A ‘Help For You’ scheme for young people; Community chest budgets managed and allocated by local area councils; The budget for each area council based on the population living in that area; Local area councils able to identify funding themes relevant to their communities; For local schemes, a £5,000 upper grant limit with a maximum award of 75% of the cost of any proposal; The countywide element of the fund doubled to £60,000, with no upper limit but the maximum grant award of 75% of the project’s costs, and Two funding rounds each year. The deadline for the first round of applications is scheduled for Friday 29 September and the second 12 January 2018. Find out all about the fund here.
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    Sleekburn’s summer open day

    A sizzling BBQ, fresh organic vegetables, and a live jazz band are all on offer at the Sleekburn Horticultural Training Unit’s August open day. The busy horticultural training unit is opening its doors on Saturday 19 August between 11am and 2pm, Visitors can pop in, enjoy a BBQ and live music and take a tour around the purpose built training facility including the several acres of vegetable and soft fruit patches, greenhouses, potting shed, secret gardens and the stable building and paddock which is home to the centre’s resident horses. The BBQ will be running from 12.30 for which there will be a charge of £5 per person. Northumberland County Councillor Veronica Jones, cabinet member for adult well being and health, said: “This project gives people with all levels of learning disabilities the opportunity to work as part of a team to plant, grow and harvest crops while also selling to and engaging with members of the local community. “The adults have been working hard throughout the spring and summer tending to a fantastic array of fruit and vegetables which have been grown without the use of chemicals or pesticides. “If you are able to support their work by coming along, having a look around the site, seeing what we do, and perhaps making a purchase please do.” Produce on sale at the opening day will all be freshly picked and all money from the sales will be reinvested back into the service. The centre is used by adults with learning disabilities and is managed by Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust on behalf of Northumberland County Council. The unit supports 18 adults each day, providing the opportunity to work as part of a team to plant, grow and harvest a number of crops and to learn how to look after horses and hens. Food will be served from 12pm .There is a charge of £5 per person for the barbecue. Sleekburn Horticultural Training Unit can be found at West Sleekburn Farm Cottages in Bedlington, NE22 7AD, just follow the brown sign to Sleekburn Kitchen Gardens.
  8. The second summer season of the Peregrini Lindisfarne Community Archaeology project on Holy Island has been successfully concluded with spectacular results. In addition to the significant and well publicised discovery of the foundations of a possible early Anglo-Saxon chapel on the crown of The Heugh, other exciting remains were uncovered in the vicinity. To the west of the chapel, close to the existing war memorial, further investigation was carried out on the remains of a substantial stone-built platform structure partially uncovered last year, which has been tentatively identified as the base of a tower, again possibly of Anglo-Saxon date. Mortared into the south face of the platform structure, which consisted of a single course of rough cobbles, the excavators discovered a socketed stone, thought to be a reused stone cross-base, and an external surface of small rounded cobbles in the same area. The presence of a cross-base suggests the possibility that the platform feature may have originally been the site of a ceremonial cross. The Lantern Chapel, at the west end of The Heugh, was also investigated. This has been a poorly understood building and, in its current form, bears little resemblance to a chapel, although a chapel-like structure is depicted in this position on a map of the island dating from 1548. Excavation here seems to have confirmed the existence of this chapel by uncovering the footings of an east-west wall sitting directly upon the natural bedrock, apparently the remains of an older, narrower building on an east-west axis beneath the visible walls. A grave had been cut into the bedrock within the chapel and the disturbed remains of several individuals were found above it, but left undisturbed. Although the dates of construction and use of the three major structures excavated on The Heugh in 2017 remain unclear, it is likely that they represent a long period of sacral activity and it is hoped that the analysis of samples taken from all three sites will provide significant additional information in the coming months. In addition to the cultural heritage of The Heugh, the natural environment has also been studied and appreciated as part of the wider Peregrini Lindisfarne project, which has been made possible by National Lottery players thanks to a £1.37m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The whin bedrock upon which two of the excavated structures are founded has been studied by geologist Ian Kille, while the plants and animals of The Heugh and its southern shore are as inspiring now as they were to St Cuthbert and his contemporaries. Prior to this season’s excavations, the natural environment had already given some clues to the hidden secrets of The Heugh, when a botanist working on the Peregrini Whin Grassland project recently questioned why different non-whin type plants were present on parts of The Heugh; the archaeology project has answered this question, showing that these plants were growing over the sandstone chapel. This season’s work on and around The Heugh has confirmed the importance of Holy Island in terms of its natural history and cultural heritage which combine to produce a unique and inspiring landscape. Conservation Manager, Sara Rushton said: "The results of this year’s excavations on The Heugh have exceeded all our expectations and will cause us to radically re-think how this narrow, exposed rocky ridge was used in the medieval and early-medieval period. These discoveries will make an important contribution to our understanding of the development of the monastery on Holy Island." The significance of the archaeology and the national importance of the natural environment will require a careful balancing act and much thought as to how best to holistically manage both. The archaeological sites have been temporarily backfilled and the nationally important habitat restored in order to give the community and other stakeholders time to develop a new project to look at, interpret and manage the whole Heugh - a real legacy for the Peregrini Lindisfarne project. Peregrini is a landscape partnership project made up of community, voluntary and public sector organisations. The project has received £1.37m funding through the Heritage Lottery Fund and is part of their national Landscape Partnership Programme. Partner’s funds and other grants dictate that over the next three years the £1.82million project will fund a wide variety of conservation and engagement projects on Holy Island and the adjacent mainland. The Peregrini Lindisfarne Landscape Partnership Scheme is managed by a Partnership of professional and community representatives from Holy Island and surrounding shore side area. The lead organisation for the Scheme is the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership, hosted by Northumberland County Council. Councillor John Riddle, cabinet member for planning at the county council said: "It is fantastic that this archaeology project is unearthing such significant remains on Holy Island, confirming the importance of the area in terms of its natural history and cultural heritage. I look forward to hearing the results of the further analysis of samples that have been taken from the three sites and to see what additional information this will provide." Photo: Aerial shot of the chapel, courtesy of The Archaeological Practice
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    Parking studies look to the future

    Parking studies will be taking place in the county’s market towns over the summer which will help develop options for future parking needs in Northumberland. Concerns about parking capacity are regularly raised with the County Council and the new administration are working to get a clearer picture of capacity and usage of carparks. A study is already underway in Berwick and further studies will be carried out over the next two months in the market towns of Hexham, Morpeth and Alnwick, with the final reports being received by the Council in November. Motorists and car park users may see traffic surveys taking place but there won’t be any disruption for drivers. The people undertaking the studies will be carrying appropriate identification. Councillor Glen Sanderson, Cabinet member for Environment and Local Services, said: “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.” “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.”
  10. Northumberland County Council has secured £5m in national funding for major road improvements. The authority successfully bid for its share of £75 million from the government’s national Highway Maintenance Challenge Fund. Local authorities were challenged to put forward schemes which could make a real difference to road users. Glen Sanderson, the County Council’s Cabinet member for Environment and Local Services: “This is absolutely fantastic news for the council,the people of Northumberland and all those who use our road network. “We’re delighted to have secured this level of funding which, combined with a further £1.5m input from ourselves, will see improvements to 24km of highway along three key routes in the more rural parts of the county. “These are crucial routes for the timber industry, quarrying and tourism and of course the residents who use these roads each day. The money, which will be spent this financial year, will fund a range of improvements, from strengthening the roads through to drainage work and resurfacing. “The bid had widespread support from a range of partners as well as local MPs and is a further demonstration of this administration’s commitment to making long term improvements and investment on our county’s roads. “We’re also pleased to be the only local authority in the region to have secured successive back to back awards from the national Highway Maintenance Challenge Fund. “It is also testament to all the hard work put in by our highways team to have submitted such a persuasive and comprehensive bid and I’m extremely proud of them.”
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    Council praised in housing awards

    Northumberland County Council has been praised for its role as a landlord at a regional awards ceremony. At the Energy Efficiency and Healthy Homes Awards last week, the council picked up highly commended in the Landlord of the Year category and commended in the Small Project of the Year (Under £250k) award. The awards were in relation to a pilot project in Cramlington which has transformed a “Dorran” style property into a more energy efficient property. Dorran properties were a popular post-war style of construction, using concrete panels, and often have issues with insulation. The pilot scheme, at a property in Allerhope, saw the council team up with external wall specialists, Alumasc Facades and Westdale services. A steel structure was added to the concrete panels to strengthen the external wall and ensure it could withstand the weight of new insulation and render. It was then finished with a unique “brick” effect render to modernise the property. All the windows in the property have also been replaced. The scheme will now be rolled out across the estate with a further 82 properties set to receive the same work over the next two years. Coun John Riddle, Cabinet member for Planning, Housing and Resilience at the council, said: “This is fantastic recognition for an innovative pilot scheme, intended to not only improve the energy efficiency of the property, but also the appearance. “Our tenant is extremely happy with the work and has already noticed the benefits with the property feeling warmer and better insulated. “We will now be rolling the project out over the next two years, to include all other council-owned homes on the estate. We hope this will have a really positive impact on the quality of life for the tenants but also the community as a whole.” Ward councillor for the area, Mark Swinburn, said: “It’s great to see the success of this pilot scheme. I am really pleased to see that the scheme will be progressing across the estate for the benefit of all residents.” Tyrone Lawton, Area Technical Manager for Alumasc Facades, said: “The council has done a fantastic job in transforming a dated dorran property to a modern looking, energy efficient home. “The council has gone that extra mile by putting their tenants first: helping with energy efficiency, saving on utility bills but also dramatically improving the appearance of the property.”
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    Help needed to decorate Tour route

    With less than 50 days to go until the Tour of Britain races through Northumberland, businesses, community groups and local residents are being called upon to help decorate the route and help turn the county red and yellow - the colours of the Northumberland flag. The people of Northumberland are being asked to take part in the colourful project painting and displaying their old or unwanted bicycles to celebrate the Northumberland stage of the race which takes place on Monday September 4. Businesses can also get involved by dressing their streets and shop windows with red and yellow bunting, flags, flowers or cycling displays. The Northumberland stage of the race is due to start in Kielder Water & Forest Park and finish in Blyth, passing through 28 communities along its 211 km route. In 2015 The Tour of Britain swept through the county creating a wave of excitement as some of the world’s top cyclists, including Sir Bradley Wiggins cycled through our communities. Residents and businesses dressed the route in the distinctive red and yellow colours of the Northumberland flag and thousands of spectators lined the route to cheer on the cyclists and give them a fantastic welcome. It is hoped that this year local communities will be just as involved. Northumberland County Councillor, Cath Homer, cabinet member with responsibility for culture, arts and leisure said: “ The Tour of Britain is the UK’s largest professional cycle race and is broadcast all around the world so it is a great chance to showcase the county as a fabulous place to visit and cycle in. “We want to add a real splash of the Northumberland red and yellow colours to the race route and would really like local residents to help us by getting creative and getting involved. We’ve spoken to the parish councils along the route and would really like local people to support them in decorating their communities.” The eight-stage race runs from 3- 10 September with the Northumberland stage taking place on Monday 4 September – full Northumberland route details can be found at www.nlandtob.com
  13. Northern Pride has been growing in strength since it began 10 years ago. Northumberland County Council is proud to be part of the movement, helping to break down barriers and creating a more open dialogue with members of the LGBT community. Northern Pride took place on Newcastle Town Moor from 21st to 23rd July and Northumberland County Council was there to show support for the LGBT community. Along with flying the rainbow flag at County Hall, members of the County Council took part in the Pride parade and also held a joint stall during the weekend’s event along with colleagues from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. Northumberland County Council is committed to building relationships with the LGBT community. Working in partnership with local and national groups, a ‘toolkit’ has been developed to help the growing number of schools who are supporting young people who question their assigned gender identity. Northumberland County Councillor Veronica Jones, cabinet member for Adult Wellbeing and Health, said: “Northumberland County Council is a keen supporter of Northern Pride and undertakes a range of activities to support and work with the LGBT community. Through Northern Pride we can engage directly with members of the LGBT community and showcase our services. “Our work to increase engagement and support for the LGBT community builds upon our involvement with Northern Pride and includes: our work with schools, creating a safe working environment and supporting our LGBT staff, engaging with young people and the wider LGBT community. We also aim to increase the diversity of our workforce by providing information on our apprenticeship opportunities, jobs and careers at our Pride stall”
  14. An ambitious programme of extra verge cutting has ensured that Northumberland is looking its best ahead of the main tourist season. The county council drafted in extra resources ahead of the summer season, increasing the number of tractors with specialist cutting equipment and aiming to carry out additional grass cutting along highway verges across the county. Progress has been swift, with 96% of all scheduled cuts completed, with the remaining scheduled verge cutting done before the end of July. This is a significant improvement on last year’s performance. At the same time in July 2016 only 16% of scheduled cuts had been done and it was October before all the cuts had been completed. The work is vital to ensure that vegetation does not restrict visibility for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. In addition to the road safety benefits, these works also improve the look of an area and keeps the network in better condition by preventing plants taking hold on the side of roads. The improvement will now also allow the teams time to return and undertake a second cut at key junctions, leading to further improvements in road safety. There are a small number of verges that have been left intentionally uncut at the request of ecology groups to maintain flower-rich habitats in specific areas of interest and these will be cut later in the season. Councillor Glen Sanderson, Cabinet Member for Environment and Local Services, said: “I’m delighted at the progress we’ve made so far, which improves road safety and has the added benefit of helping make the county look really neat, tidy and well maintained. “One of our priorities is to improve the condition of the road network and invest in improvements that benefit everyone. This is a great example of where the council has identified a quick win that will bring longer term benefits. “We’ve taken immediate steps to focus on verge cutting and extra weeding to ensure Northumberland is looking its best ahead of the main tourist season. “I am very grateful to all staff for their great and much appreciated efforts in getting this work done so quickly and efficiently.”
  15. For further information about the events taking place throughout the PRIDE weekend, please visit here
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    Facilities to stay at former school site

    A former Alnwick school site being vacated this summer will continue to be used by the community, Northumberland County Council has confirmed. The council is reassuring local sports clubs that the sports centre on the old Lindisfarne Middle School site will continue to operate, after concerns were raised earlier this year that the hall was set to be demolished. The playing fields will also continue to be used by the local community. Meanwhile the council’s Learning and Skills Service, which provides adult learning opportunities in Alnwick to around 700 local people, is to move into the school building over the summer when it is vacated, with a view to expanding the range of services they can offer from September. The pupils themselves will be moving to the two-tier site at Duchess’s Community High School from the start of the new term. Alnwick Councillor Gordon Castle had raised concerns over the future of the site and said he was pleased both sporting facilities and adult learning were now going to be maintained. Cllr Castle said: "This is a really good example of community empowerment and effective collaboration between council departments and local residents. “I'm really hopeful that we can look forward to a very effective community operation here, including sports, leisure and adult education. “Residents of Lindisfarne Road can be assured that we intend to increase provision of on site parking to ensure that are not adversely affected by more cars parked in their street." The new prospectus of learning will be delivered to households starting from 21st August, but will be available online at www.northumberland.gov.uk/adultlearning from the end of July.
  17. Northumberland has some of the best parks in Britain – and that’s official. Parks in Bedlington, Berwick, Blyth, Cramlington, Hexham and Morpeth together with the country parks at Plessey Woods near Bedlington and Bolam Lake near Belsay, have all been awarded prestigious Green Flag Awards by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy. Northumberland’s winning green spaces are Ridley Park, Doctor Pit Park, Alexandra Park, Hexham Parks, Carlisle Park, Castle Vale and Coronation Parks, Plessey Woods Country Park and Bolam Lake Country Park, all part of a great tally of award-winning parks and green spaces in 2017. The award, now into its third decade, recognises and rewards the best parks and green spaces across the country. A green flag flying overhead is a sign to the public that the space boasts the highest possible standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent facilities. Councillor Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for local services at Northumberland County Council said: “We are absolutely delighted that so many of our parks have achieved Green Flag Awards from Keep Britain Tidy. “They highlight and recognise that residents and visitors are benefitting from green spaces of the very highest quality. “We are extremely grateful for the support and commitment of local people, parks users, friends groups, town and parish councils, volunteers and our own staff, who help to keep parks vibrant and extremely well-used. Everyone involved can be very proud.” International Green Flag Award scheme manager Paul Todd said: “We are delighted to be celebrating another record-breaking year for the Green Flag Award scheme. “Each flag is a celebration of the thousands of staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to maintain the high standards demanded by the Green Flag Award. The success of the scheme, especially in these challenging times, demonstrates just how much parks matter to people.” Entries for the Green Flag Award are open to parks and green spaces located in the UK. Applications are judged against a set of eight key criteria including conservation and heritage, community involvement and sustainability. More about the Northumberland Green Flag parks: Alexandra Park, Cramlington: Alexandra Park is located in the town of Cramlington in South East Northumberland. The Park was developed in the 1970s to provide recreational opportunities for the expanding population of the new town. The layout is modern with large areas of amenity open space housing football pitches, a bowling green, pavilion, play areas, multi use games area and a skate park. The park also affords informal recreational opportunities as the park has excellent off road links with surrounding areas through a network of footpaths and cycleways. The judges described the Park as a facility used by a wide range of the local community and is a credit to all involved. They were particularly impressed by the wildflower planting schemes which were implemented by Cramlington Town Council working in partnership with the Neighbourhood Services team of Northumberland County Council Bolam Lake Country Park, near Belsay Bolam Lake is situated 9 miles west of Morpeth and 2.5 miles north of Belsay located just off the A696 The park has around 100 acres of woodland, amenity grassland and 25 acres is the lake itself which affords stunning views as you walk around. The wildlife is abundant and home to red squirrels, deer, mute swans and many woodland birds including the nuthatch There are lovely walks for all the family and many generations have visited with the ever popular activity of feeding the ducks and swans. Last year saw the 200th year since the lake was started by John Dobson and many activities took place to celebrate including a full programme of free events for families and talks for all. The park is supported by an active Friends of Bolam Lake group who were thrilled to hear yet again the park had achieved this award Carlisle Park, Morpeth: Carlisle Park is a multi-award winning park in the heart of Morpeth. Situated on the south bank of the River Wansbeck, it contains The William Turner Garden, formal gardens, an aviary, play areas, a paddling pool, ancient woodland, picnic areas, toilets, tennis courts, bowling greens, a skate park, and much more. A paddling pool and play area are run by Morpeth Town Council and are immensely popular, providing an excellent play space for children of all ages. Visitors can also enjoy peaceful woodland walks, a promenade along the river, or find a vibrant array of colour and a peaceful oasis in the formal gardens and the William Turner Garden. Doctor Pit Park, Bedlington: Doctor Pit Park is situated in the heart of Bedlington. Families are catered for with high quality play facilities, a multi-use games area and a small skate park. There is a well maintained bowling green and bowls club which is based in the pavilion building. The pavilion offers a community room, full kitchen and toilet facilities and is available for hire by groups or individuals. The Green Flag award recognizes the development of the park as both a hub of community activity and a safe, clean and green area for the residents of Bedlington. The pavilion is home to Doctor Pit Bowls Club, and Bedlington Art Group they all work closely with officers and staff of Neighbourhood Services to raise funds to improve the park, and to provide activities and events for the local community. Hexham Parks: Hexham Parks are the vibrant centre of the town and the hub of many of the public events, as well as being a beautiful attraction in their own right. They are well used and loved by locals and tourists and have been awarded the Green Flag for more than 10 years running. Scenically set next to the Abbey, the herbaceous borders and bowling green area of Hexham House grounds with the sensory garden and the glade are peaceful places to relax. The Sele has spectacular views across the Tyne Valley as well as the popular skate park and children’s play area; and the bandstand of the Abbey Grounds with the Edwardian gated entrances offers a great venue for picnics or putting. The community groups that use the site and local partnerships who have worked with us on this year’s application are thrilled to once again be part of the Green Flag community. Castle Vale and Coronation Parks, Berwick-upon-Tweed: These beautiful parks sit on either side of the train station in Berwick upon Tweed and have recently been revitalised by £1million Parks for People funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery. Castle Vale Park contains a lily pond, picturesque shelters, rock gardens and spectacular views of the Royal Border bridge as it crosses the River Tweed. Coronation Park, to the north of the train station, is England’s most northerly park and is a pocket sized delight containing stunning herbaceous borders, a wildflower meadow, a contemporary pergola and a traditional shelter which provide places to rest and enjoy the timeless view of the River Tweed. The parks, known collectively as Castle Parks, have regular events and are supported by the dedicated work of many volunteers and the Friends of Castle Parks. Plessey Woods Country Park, Hartford Bridge, Bedlington: Plessey Woods Country Park is located near Hartford Bridge, off the A192, mid-way between Bedlington and Cramlington and about 5 miles south of Morpeth. The Park offers 100 acres of woodland, meadow and riverside to explore. The woodland is home to many birds such as the great spotted woodpecker, nuthatch and tree creeper, as well as animals including red squirrel, roe deer and fox. The banks of the River Blyth are also an important habitat for wildlife, such as kingfishers, dippers and otters. People have come to Plessey Woods for generations to enjoy the woods and the river. Known locally as Bluebell Woods, the country park is an ideal place for a family day out with great opportunities for getting close to nature. Ridley Park, Blyth: Ridley Park provides a variety of recreational opportunities for the local community and visitors. It is popular throughout the year as a destination for all age groups. The Park has well established formal gardens, wooded areas and secluded areas which prove popular with families and walkers who want to enjoy time out in the fresh air. It offers a range of sporting activities including tennis courts and bowls as well as children’s play opportunities with specially designed junior and toddler areas at the southern end of the site. One of the unique features of the park is a water play area installed in 2005 which has proved a great attraction for both the local population and those travelling from other parts of the North East to visit. The water play area is open most days during the summer and is free to use (as are the majority of the activities offered in the park). For those looking for refreshment while visiting the park there is a café offering food and drink throughout the year and during the summer an ice cream van is on site most days. A further summer attraction in the park are the small fairground rides which operate most days (a small charge is payable for these). There are regular organised events during the year led by the Friends of Ridley Park and other community groups which are publicised locally and in press where entry is free.
  18. A multi-million pound cash boost from the National Lottery will ensure an historic Ashington park is restored to its former glory. Northumberland County Council has been successful in securing a £2.29million ‘Parks for People’ grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The funding will ensure that the Flower Park is rejuvenated and landscaped, a new play area developed and greenhouses and buildings restored to provide much improved public spaces. New training facilities for the community, to be operated in partnership with Northumberland College, will also be created. The National Lottery grant will be supported by contributions from the county council, the town council and Ashington Leisure Partnership, bringing the total project value to £2.7m over the next five years. The 100-year old park is renowned as being the place where international football legends the Charlton brothers and Jackie Milburn played as youngsters. The funding will also establish an annual Charlton and Milburn Cup tournament so that local youth groups can follow in their footsteps. The National Lottery funding will allow play facilities to be enhanced with water play features reintroduced, and the colourful floral displays that the park is so fondly remembered for will also be revived. Councillor Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for environment and local services, said: “This is absolutely fantastic news for the park, local residents and the Ashington area. “Thanks must go to all those who have put so much work into this scheme over the past few years to secure this extremely substantial funding commitment. “This project will protect the park and its heritage for the community for the next century and enable generations to play, learn and relax in this wonderful space.” Council Leader Peter Jackson added: "The Hirst Park scheme is all a part of the continued revitalisation and rebirth of Ashington which has our full support. “Ashington has a bright future and we will continue to support a town that everyone can be proud of." The coal mining heritage of the park and local area will play a big part in the long term project with events, activities and interpretation resources being developed to explore and tell its story. Ashington Town Council's Business Chair, Councillor Mark Purvis, added: “On behalf of the Town Council I am are delighted with the successful outcome of the bid. “Successful bids of this magnitude require a great deal of work over a period of time with a lot of this work often going unseen. The Town Council, as a major partner in the bid, now looks forward to seeing the exciting plans being turned into reality and the Park being returned to its former glory.” The Heritage Lottery Fund’s Chief Executive, Ros Kerslake, said, on behalf of HLF and Big Lottery Fund: “It’s difficult to overstate the importance of our public parks. Vital to our well-being and essential to biodiversity, they are highly valued spaces enjoyed daily by people from all walks of life. “Hirst Park is one of the latest parks to benefit from over £900million of National Lottery funding, which over the last twenty years has played a crucial role in revitalising more than 800 parks across the UK.” The Hirst Revival project plans to deliver: The lost garden of Hirst will be recreated and links between the recreation ground and Flower Park will be opened up. Horticultural training including courses to help families grow their own vegetables. Research activities and events to engage local people to help us discover more about the heritage of the park, people and the area. A play zone, including a water play feature and wildlife areas. The former site of the Woodhorn monument will be developed into a community performance and interpretation space, telling the mining heritage story of the area. The major improvements and activities are set to begin in 2018.
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    Review underway on Post-16 travel charges

    A comprehensive review is now underway on a council policy which sees some students in Northumberland paying £600 a year to travel to school and college. The review will focus on delivering the new administration’s commitment to introducing a zero charge within the council term. Over 100 students in the county currently have to pay an annual sum of £600 for travel organised by the authority, and other Post 16 students who are able to use public transport having to pay for their own travel. It was not possible for the new administration to bring in any changes to its Post 16 Transport Policy ahead of the statutory deadline for the 2017/18 school year, which came just days after the new council was formed. However work has now started on reviewing the whole policy and in the interim the council has implemented an additional payment option which allows families to spread payments more evenly. From September 2017 students can opt to make eight payments of £75 via direct debit - as opposed to paying the whole amount as a lump sum or with £200 up front. Deputy Council Leader Wayne Daley, who is also Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “We remain committed to overhauling this policy and have begun reviewing every aspect of it. “The first stage is a comprehensive information gathering exercise so we fully understand the way forward. “The fact we had a week between forming a new administration and meeting statutory deadlines meant we simply couldn’t make any major changes for the coming school year. “However we were keen to find a way of offering increased flexibility for those students and families who have to pay the charges. “Many people find it easier to spread bills evenly in smaller amounts rather than pay lump-sums or larger initial instalments. It’s positive to report people are already signing up to this new payment method.” The £600 travel charge for students attending their nearest educational establishments where public transport is not available was introduced by the previous council administration.
  20. Northumberland County Council has withdrawn the Northumberland Local Plan Core Strategy from Government and to carry out a review of some aspects of the document. The review will look to further protect Green Belt land and prevent a development “free for all” in the future. A motion to full council asking for a full review of the housing and employment numbers and strategic land use allocations within the draft Core Strategy was carried by 39 votes to 22. The Core Strategy has not been scrapped - it is only certain elements which will now be reviewed. Members stressed their support for economic and housing growth to support local communities but questioned whether the housing numbers contained within the current Core Strategy are required to meet these ambitions, and wish to undertake a review and any required public consultation as soon as possible. Coun Peter Jackson, Leader of Northumberland County Council said: “Many residents were unhappy with the proposed Core Strategy and have been calling for a review. We are a council that listens and it is vital we get this right. “The strategy will have a direct impact on future generations in Northumberland and we wanted to propose a review at the first opportunity. This council wants to protect our communities and to plan for a sustainable and prosperous future for our county and the wider region. “While we believe the vast majority of the plan is fine, information currently available, and anticipated for release by the Government later this year, suggests to us that the requirement for housing in our County may very well not be as high as has been proposed previously. “We want to use this information from Government and take into full account the latest regional plan in the form of the NE Strategic Economic Plan, to review the need to build on acres of Green Belt land. “Ultimately we want to improve control of development within our County, not create a free for all which encroaches on our Green Belt.” Advice has been sought from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the report states that a local planning authority can withdraw a submitted plan at any time prior to adoption, at which point it would publish a statement about this and send notification to consultation bodies. The work will be done as quickly as possible, so that the strategy can be re-submitted to Government as soon as is practicable.
  21. Residents are being given the chance to have their say on the future plans for Northumberland’s Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS). The service has produced a draft version of its four year plan, setting out its priorities up to 2021. Among the priorities are enhanced collaboration and partnership working, expanding and enhancing its community 'Safe and Well' visits, revising its school's education programmes and providing increased resilience with neighbouring services. NFRS Chief Fire Officer Paul Hedley said: “We have a fire and rescue service to be proud of and are committed to making the county an even safer place to live, work and visit. “This four year plan outlines the main risks to the communities of Northumberland and how we will use our resources efficiently to reduce those risks. “We must ensure we continue to provide high quality prevention and protection activity to those most at risk while providing a well-equipped and highly trained workforce to respond to incidents.” Northumberland continues to be extremely safe and the plan highlights that over the past ten years the number of fire and rescue incidents has dropped by 31%. And over the past five years the number of accidental house fires has dropped by almost half. However the service continues to be very busy and in 2016/17 received around 6,200 calls and attended 3115 incidents. Councillor John Riddle, the County Council’s Fire Authority chair, said: “We want to ensure decisions about our services take into account the views of residents, employees and communities of Northumberland. “We know we must aim to maintain our focus on regularly reviewing risk to ensure we are using our personnel and resources where they can have maximum impact and do all we can to prevent fires and other emergencies from occurring in the first place. “By taking part in our survey people can help us understand what they think of our future plans and ensure our services are targeted in the most effective way.” The draft plan and survey can be viewed by going to http://www.northumberland.gov.uk/NFRplan The eight-week consultation opens on July 10th and closes on September 1st 2017 and a final version of the plan will be approved by Northumberland County Council later in the year.
  22. Children are being encouraged to turn detective and sign up to this year's Summer Reading challenge at their local library. The Animal Agents Summer Reading Challenge asks 4-11 year olds to borrow and read any six library books during the summer holidays, collecting incentives and rewards along the way. And it’s a fun, free way of keeping children occupied during the school holidays, which is top news for parents ! Those who complete the challenge will be presented with a certificate and a medal at a special ceremony in their local library at the beginning of the new term. This year’s theme is Animal Agents, based on a detective agency staffed by all kinds of clever animals – furry, scaly and slippery – who are out to crack a case at the library with a little help from their friends. To take part in Animal Agents, all children need to do is to head to their local library where they will be given a collector folder to keep a record of their reading journey. As children read at least six library books over the summer, they collect stickers which will help them crack the clues and help the Animal Agents find out what's really been going on behind the scenes! There is to be a whole programme of fantastic family events and activities planned at Northumberland libraries over the summer to celebrate the Summer Reading Challenge. These include animal handling sessions with ‘Creatures Up Close’, lots of fun, games and activities with organisations including ‘Dogs Trust’, Cats Protection’ and Blue Cross for Pets. Cramlington Library is excited to be welcoming Northumbria Police Dogs - so you can go along and meet a real life dog detective! There will also be ‘Animal Agent Crafty Fun’ sessions at many libraries. For a full list of events, including dates, venues go to: www.eventbrite.co.uk and search ‘Northumberland Libraries’ . You can also book your free ticket from this website. Northumberland County Councillor, Cath Homer, Cabinet member for Culture, Arts, Tourism and Leisure said: “Reading is a vital life skill, yet it is a skill that can take second place to the excitement of computers, television and electronic games. “ It is one of our aims through the challenge to prove that books can be exciting too and introduce children to one of the best free resources for their minds that they have on their doorsteps – the local library.” Over 2,000 children across Northumberland took part in last year’s Summer Reading Challenge in libraries and it is hoped that even more children visit their local library to join ‘Animal Agents’ this Summer. Children's reading can 'dip' during the long summer holidays if they don’t have regular access to books and encouragement to read for pleasure. This can be a problem for schools to put right in the new term, and The Reading Agency’s annual Summer Reading Challenge really helps by getting children into libraries over the summer. There is no other free reading activity that involves so many children, introduces families to their library, encourages children to choose books freely and independently and is endorsed by parents, teachers and the Department for Education. Sue Wilkinson, CEO, of The Reading Agency, a leading national charity inspiring people of all ages and backgrounds to read for pleasure and wellbeing said: “At The Reading Agency, we believe that everything changes when we read and we know from our research how much fun families and children have when taking part in the Challenge. This year we hope the wonderful characters created for us by Tony Ross will inspire more children than ever to take part and make use of their local library throughout the summer and beyond." For further details about ‘Animal Agents’ or our Summer events, please visit our website www.mylibrary.co.uk, follow Northumberland Libraries on Facebook & Twitter or contact us on: 01670 620250. ·
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    Area councils boundary changes agreed

    Boundary changes to Northumberland’s new five local area councils have been agreed. The new councils cover North Northumberland, Ashington and Blyth, Castle Morpeth, Tynedale and Cramlington, Bedlington and Seaton Valley. Each area is responsible for issues such as planning applications, road spending and petitions - bringing decision making back to a more local level. Since they were set up in May, local members have been consulted on the boundaries. At full council members agreed to move Stakeford Electoral Division into Castle Morpeth from Cramlington, Bedlington and Seaton Valley and also move Bothal Electoral Division from Castle Morpeth into Ashington and Blyth. Councillor Richard Dodd, the county council’s Business Chair, said: “These councils are all about giving more power back to our communities and enabling decision making at a local level. “In the past we have had decisions made about towns and villages without people from those areas involved. “We have previously said we would review the boundaries in the next six months to a year and make changes if necessary. We’ve listened to local members in Stakeford and Bothal and are happy to make these changes.”
  24. The Duchess of Northumberland has helped to celebrate the very best in community and voluntary environmental work across the county at a special LOVE Northumberland awards event. Nineteen groups, organisations, schools and individuals were honoured with winner, runner-up or highly commended awards across eight categories. Representatives of all shortlisted entries attended the event at The Alnwick Garden, which was hosted by local historian and TV presenter John Grundy. Best new project went to Prudhoe Local History Society for their work on ‘St Mary Magdalene Cemetery restoration’; best urban project to Transition Tynedale for ‘Edible Hexham’; and best coast or countryside project to Allendheads Trust Ltd for ‘Isaac’s Tea Trail’. The best young people's project category was won by Prudhoe Community High School for ‘re-populating bees in the North East’ and the best children's project by Josephine Butler Primary Academy for ‘Let your light shine’. The award for an individual whose efforts or commitment help to enrich the environment of Northumberland was presented to three winners this year: Derek Martin, a volunteer litter picker from Haltwhistle; Lindsay Thompson, a volunteer with Groundwork North East; and five year old Oliver Jackson, a young environmental champion from Blyth. The Grace Darling Campus of the Northumberland Church of England Academy won the category for the Best School Recycling Project and the School Sustainable Travel Award went to Shanklea Primary School. The annual awards were developed by Northumberland County Council through its LOVE Northumberland campaign, with the aim of promoting the work of the council and its many partner organisations, community groups and volunteers who all help to preserve and enhance the environment in the county. Councillor Anthony Murray, civic head of Northumberland County Council, welcomed everyone to the awards evening, saying: "All of the shortlisted entries should be very proud of their work and I sincerely hope that they enjoyed this event, in the inspirational setting of The Alnwick Garden. “The LOVE Northumberland awards are all about celebrating the work that individuals and groups do, largely in a voluntary capacity, to keep their local areas green and clean right across Northumberland day in and day out. “Her Grace the Duchess of Northumberland has been very generous in giving up her time each year to present prizes to the winners, and we are very grateful to her for this support.” Main sponsor of the awards again this year was The Banks Group and development relations co-ordinator Jeannie Kielty said: “Our company has had a long history with these awards - having been pleased to support them since 2012. All of the groups and individuals do an amazing job for their local communities and I have never failed to be impressed by the range and standard of new applications received each year. “We want to make a positive difference in the communities we operate in Northumberland, and this sponsorship is just one of the ways that we feel we can do this - recognising the contributions made by local people in enhancing the county’s environment.” Other sponsors and supporters of the awards this year have included Marmax Products for their colourful recycled benches and seats; local company Origin Designs who have provided wooden plaques for all of the winners; Jewsons for litter picking equipment: and the Go Smarter scheme for bikes and helmets. Each winning entry received a £250 prize, each runner-up £100 and highly commended finalists £50, with the money to go towards their project or other work within the local community. To find out more about LOVE Northumberland go to www.northumberland.gov.uk/love The winners were: Best School Recycling Project Rewarding achievements in school recycling and waste minimisation Winner: Grace Darling Campus of the Northumberland Church of England Academy Children from Grace Darling Campus have been very busy working on a range of waste minimisation and recycling initiatives for their entry to the Best Recycling project. Following a whole school assembly delivered by Northumberland County Council and workshops in Y3, the school council met and discussed the range of activities and strategies which could be completed around school. Each member of the school council then completed waste audits around school identifying the main waste items both inside the school and in the school grounds. Findings from this were then shared with the rest of the school and recommendations to minimise waste were made. Each class from Nursery – Year 6 then completed activities to raise awareness and share information with others to increase the understanding of the learners. Here’s a taster of some of the things Grace Darling Campus have done- Nursery read the story Big Bear, Little Bear by David Bedford and Jane Chapman and the children made icebergs and bear caves for bears from recycled materials. Recycling stations have been created in the classrooms Posters were displayed to encourage less food waste in the school canteen area Children have learnt about Earth Day and its meaning and completed personal pledges A new area called ‘be whatever you want to be’ has been created which is completely made of recycled materials. The school now use old and unused exercise books at break times in the yard, allowing children the opportunity to draw and colour and minimising the waste caused by old books. Following a clear out of the school archives and loft space, unwanted books and resources were donated to the Sri Lankan schools projects. Children have completed litter picks within the school grounds and on the paths which lead into school. Some of the children also assisted in the Great British Spring Clean with St. Bartholomew’s Church. School Sustainable Travel Award Awarded by Go Smarter Northumberland to schools that have gone the extra mile to promote sustainable transport for the journey to school. Winner: Shanklea Primary School The winner of this years Schools Sustainable Travel Award is Shanklea Primary School in Cramlington, Head Teacher, Helen Brown and her staff have enthusiastically embraced the sustainable travel message, ensuring that they take every opportunity to incorporate active travel into everyday school life at Shanklea. Their school council have become Junior Travel Ambassadors and they pro-actively use their expertise and student voice to initiate community change. Here are just some of the fantastic projects which the school has delivered this year: A group of pupils- ‘The Bike Crew’ led on a project to landscape some wasteland beside their cycle shed, decorating the bike shed and installing more cycle storage and a seating area, the pupils involved have a great sense of pride in their achievements and they have also enthused the rest of the school. The school has an annual residential cycling trip to Kielder Forest, with pupils taking part in various cycling activities during their stay. Two members of staff have been trained in bike maintenance in order to support the many cycling initiatives which the school take part in such as: Riding Without Stabilizers, Bikers Breakfasts and Bike Maintenance sessions, Bikeability Training scheme and establishing the pupil Bike Crew Champions within the school. The school has appointed Sports Leaders to ensure that healthy, active lifestyles and sustainable travel are promoted throughout the year. Each year the school holds a Road Safety enrichment week, where activities such as assemblies, competitions, Be Seen, Be Bright activities, visits by the local School Crossing Patrol staff and the Police take part. Shanklea Primary also takes part in Northumberland’s Child Pedestrian Training scheme which teaches pupils how to cross the road safely a vital life skill. The school has successfully lobbied for installation of new path and traffic calming measures near their school to improve safety for those walking and cycling. This year the school also achieved gold in the National Modeshift STARs accreditation scheme, after working through bronze and silver levels in only one year delivering in excess of 50 sustainable travel initiatives and this October they planning a school cycling trip to Amsterdam so that pupils and staff can experience the Dutch cycling culture first hand. Runner-up: Mickley First School Best children’s project Open to entrants where the majority of participants are aged 11 years and under. This includes schools and out of school children’s groups such as scouts, brownies, cubs, rainbows, boy’s brigades etc. Winner: Josephine Butler Primary Academy - Let your light shine! By focussing on the mental and emotional well-being of the children the school have created a number of areas in the school grounds. The children have built and planted a raised bed in the yard. The bed is planted with herbs and vegetables that parents can help themselves to as they pass. The areas also has a lighthouse and deckchair linked to their ethos of ‘Let Your Light Shine’. This is celebrated further in the Primary Drop off zone; the children and parents have worked together to design and make a giant stone representation of the NCEA emblem. Using local stone and learning new skills the area has been cut, and the stone placed and cemented and the school are planting plants and flowers around it in the Academy colours. They are hoping to enhance it with a daffodil island and a primrose path ready for next Spring. As a community they have also built a new rabbit hutch and pen using recycled materials donated by local families. This houses two rescue rabbits, Luna and Honeycomb. They are used as “reading rabbits” in school and are petted by the children while reading, to alleviate any stress or anxiety related to reading aloud. The children have raised money to fund these projects by selling artefacts and plants that they have made using recycled materials. They set up a mini enterprise at The Grainger Market in Newcastle and sold items in the school’s Christmas Fayre and the Easter Fayre. By looking at ways to enhance the environment and benefit the community the children are truly letting their Lights Shine in an innovative and creative way. Runner up: Newsham Primary School - Newsham Love Northumberland Highly commended: Morpeth All Saints First School - Outdoor Learning Best Young People’s project Open to entries where the majority of the participants are aged 12 to 25, including schools, colleges, youth groups and other organisations. Winner: Prudhoe Community High School - Re-populating bees in the North East For the past two years the pupils of the school have been meeting twice a week working on the problem of the decline in bee populations due to pesticides, habitat destruction and the various mite parasites. They have been researching into what ways they could help. Firstly they collected data scientifically by watching the number of bee visits to each type of flower in the area. They then calculated if there was a statistical difference in the number of bee visits to each flower to determine which flowers the bees preferred. They designed a garden habitat which incorporated these flowers and designed bee houses for solitary bees and made models of them. They researched the cost of hives and equipment for a colony of social bees and are looking at ways of raising the money to buy this equipment. They have raised awareness within the local community and given advice as to what flowers are best for the bees in their gardens and producing advisory leaflets and spread this word by hosting coffee mornings, producing a bee song and music video, and even appeared on BBC News representing the North East They have travelled to Northumbria University for the Big Bang Science Fair regional competition and travelled to Birmingham for the National event, spreading the word even further and promoting the County. Best Urban Project This award is open to entries where the project or activities benefits a more urban area, where a lot of people live. Winner: Transition Tynedle - Edible Hexham This group have been together for 4 years and they were inspired by the ‘Incredible Edible Todmorden Project’ in Yorkshire which has been credited with inspiring to live more sustainably and to foster a feeling of community cohesion and pride in their town. In Hexham they do the same, but on a smaller scale. In small neglected areas of land a growing number of planters have been planted with fruit and vegetables and are kept maintained. All the produce is available for the public to harvest and eat. To date they have 16 planters and 5 planted areas and most of the planters are maintained by local businesses or the community groups. Their aims are many – to demonstrate to the public how easy it is to grow your own at home and encourage gardening, to work with as many local groups as possible and connect people through gardening, and to enhance the Hexham Environment with beautiful and interesting displays. By replacing modern bedding plants and council plantings with fruit, vegetables and particularly herbs and edible flowers, they are replacing sterile, non-nectar producing plants with a source of food for many more insects, in so doing this is increasing biodiversity within Hexham. Plants of any kind are proven to enhance local environmental quality and this group aim to have as many areas as green as possible. In the past Hexham was a famous local fruit growing area and they hope to replicate that heritage too! Runner up: Seaton Sluice Community Association - Seaton Sluice in Bloom Highly commended - Friends of Berwick Castle parks - Berwick Parks Project Best Coast or Countryside Project Open to entries where the project or activities take place in more sparsely populated or rural areas of Northumberland. Winner: Allenheads Trust Ltd - Isaac’s Tea Trail Isaac’s Tea Trail is a community based long distance footpath running though South West Northumberland created and maintained by volunteers. It runs over the moors and rivers around Allendale Common in an area of exceptional beauty and follows in the footsteps of the legendary itinerant tea seller Isaac Holden. Since its inception volunteers have worked with Northumberland County Council’s Countryside Team. They have responded to many challenges over time but since 2008 with the administrative support of Allenheads Trust Ltd have successfully attracted walkers from near and far. From a rudimentary trail created partly to support local youth hostels, it has become recognised nationally and featured on the radio 4 “Ramblings” programme with Clare Balding. The trail is free of charge with the way marks and logos maintained by volunteers and the income raised from the sale of the trail guide is reinvested in signage and leaflets which makes the trail sustainable. Hexham Ramblers provide a stewardship role, renewing signs and clearing summer vegetation with the help of other individuals and groups. The Allen Valleys Landscape Partnership project has refurbished Isaac Holden’s hearse house into a roadside shelter and information point and a ramp for disabled access has also been installed. It is also used by Duke of Edinburgh groups and local school groups have integrated Isaac Holden’s life story into their teaching lessons. Older age groups from the University of the Third Age and others from Church and Methodist walking groups have all enjoyed walking the route. The trail falls within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and passes in Monks Wood and Haggs Bank which are designated Sites of Special Scientific interest. It gives walkers the chance to see at close quarters, especially in Spring time, the flower rich hay meadows and ensures they leave only the gentlest of footprints with the minimum of disturbance to the wildlife and moorland birds. Whether full trail walks or those doing short walks they make a significant economic contribution to support local services and accommodation providers. Runner up: Longhorsley Parish Council - Longhorsley Community Woodland Highly commended: Longhoughton Parish Council - Boulmer Meadowland Project Best New Project This category is open to activities and projects that have started within 12 months prior to the launch of the annual call for LOVE Northumberland award nominations. Winner: Prudhoe Local History Society - St. Mary Magdalene Cemetery Restoration The start of this project could by titled ' the lollipop lady, the lime tree and Local Services'. Overhanging branches from the old churchyard in Prudhoe were causing a problem with the school crossing patrol, and when Local Services removed them, a contact was made between Eddie (the lollipop lady's husband) and the council officer. He then worked with the Local History Society and the council to set up an ambitious project to tame the wilderness in the site which had been closed in 1909 and overgrown since the early 1980’s. The Prudhoe and District local history society had been keen to transcribe the headstones within the churchyard for years, but unfortunately the extreme vegetation cover meant they had never been able to get in and see them, it was like something out of Indiana Jones! With help from the council, support from the church, and grants from the Town Council and Land of Oak and Iron Project, volunteers started work on site in January this year, removing tonnes of fly-tipping and a vast amount of undergrowth. Things sped up dramatically by the addition of some mechanised help by Neighbourhood Services for a few days before the grass cutting season, but after this 6-12 regular volunteers have met at least twice a week on site to clear it by hand. Now that the site is open and accessible, people from the town are now coming in to see graves of relatives. Some fascinating stories of previous residents and heroes are being discovered and family trees are being completed. It has reached out and involved the school next-door, the WI, the library, the University of the 3rd Age and other groups. The site is showing evidence of a wide diversity of bird life, small mammals, bats and deer have all been spotted in the cemetery. The restored site will provide an environment for all of this wildlife to flourish, a local conservation group has already shown interest in using the cemetery to study the wildlife and plants situated there. There is still an amount of work to do, research into history, some very uneven areas of ground to make good and some fallen monuments to raise and read, but this is a dramatic improvement in the town, a truly 'monumental' achievement in just 6 months, so well done Prudhoe and District Local History society! Runner up: Friends of Lyne Dene/Groundwork NE - Discover the Dene Highly commended: Ponteland Community Partnership - Old Railway Line Bridle Project Outstanding Individual Awards A category where we have invited people to nominate an individual whose efforts or commitment help to enrich the environment and the lives of residents in Northumberland. This year we have recognised three special individuals. Winner: Derek Martin . Unfortunately due to a recent illness Derek was not able to be at the awards, so Councillor Ian Hutchinson kindly took his award to him at hom. Derek has steadfastly and faithfully carried out a volunteering role for 14 years in Haltwhistle. He picks up litter around the town almost every morning, throughout the year, in all weathers. He is out for at least 4 hours every day with his litter picker and barrow and clears the street before some people have even woken up. He reports any large items to the Town Council, and sometimes gets an earful off residents thinking he works for the Council, as he is such a familiar sight not realising that he does this as a volunteer. He was nominated for his dedication and the pride he has in the work that he does. Apparently there have only been two occasions when Derek was unable to do his litter picking due to an injury and illness but after each illness he has returned to his duties. Haltwhistle Town Council is very grateful for Derek’s volunteer work and recognises the enormous difference he makes to the cleanliness of the town, making it a far nicer, cleaner place for residents and visitors alike. It helps to make a good impression and encourages visitors to enjoy their stay and return. They are delighted he will receive the recognition that they feel he deserves. Winner: Lindsay Thompson Lindsay became a volunteer with Groundwork North East six years ago and from being a person who hardly knew which end of the spade to dig with has grown from strength to strength, overcoming her own nerves and anxiety. Her knowledge of tools and environmental management has evolved so much that she now leads tasks for groups of volunteers and keeps everyone else right. From an environmental improvement Lindsay has spent over 2,000 hours improving green spaces across Northumberland for both people and wildlife. Working on a huge array or projects to help manage a wildflower nursery, developing gardens at care homes, schools and hospitals, hand raking acres and acres of wildflower meadows, footpath work, building picnic tables, planting trees, installing interpretation and signage. Removing literally thousands of redundant tree guards. She has set up a Forest Schools project, been involved in removing Himalayan Balsam along the Wansbeck, and also involved in the Growing Well Garden at Wansbeck General Hospital which achieved one of our awards in 2015. She has worked from Berwick to Hexham, including Bedlington an Ashington and most places in between. So many fantastic environmental projects have been able to take place because of the hard work Lindsay has put in helping with the initial set up and infrastructure. If this wasn’t enough in 2015 Lindsay cycled, with support from a Groundwork member of staff coast to coast along the John Muir Way to raise awareness of the importance of looking after our natural spaces and to raise funds for a Dementia Gardening Project based in Bedlington. By the time of these awards Lindsay would have also completed a walk coast to coast across the Highlands to raise funds for an Older Persons Active Green Living Allotment Project. She is incredibly brave and committed to improving the environment and enriching the lives of residents in Northumberland. Winner: Oliver Jackson Our final award this evening is to recognise a very special young boy who is an aspiring Environmental Champion. Five year old Oliver’s mum contacted us to tell us about his outstanding efforts at the end of the Northumberland LIVE Event in Blyth. Oliver was appalled at the amount of rubbish left behind by the public and decided to set about picking up the litter. Such a display of community spirit is something that we would love to encourage and reward, so as a way of saying thank you we have some gifts for Oliver – our very own “little litter picking champion”.
  25. Plans to revise and re-launch a much valued community funding scheme are currently being considered by Northumberland County Council. One of the key improvements to the scheme will be a new grant aimed specifically at the under 18s. Proposals for the future operation of the Northumberland Community Chest Scheme will be put before the five new local area councils to seek their views. Under the new plans there will be a ‘Help For You’ scheme for young people. Grants of up to £200 will be available to help those under 18 in pursuing a particular ambition. It is proposed that both the local and countywide elements of the community chest are retained. For local schemes, there will be a £5,000 upper grant limit with a maximum award of 75% of the cost of any proposal. For the countywide element, the pot has been doubled to £60,000. There will be no upper grant limit, but the maximum grant award will be 75% of the project’s costs. The community chest fund has been in operation in Northumberland since 2009 and over its lifetime 1,450 awards have been made to voluntary and community groups totalling £2.6million to develop projects that enhance the environment, improve health and wellbeing and strengthen communities. Leader of Northumberland County Council, Peter Jackson said: “We know how helpful and appreciated the community chest fund has been and how it has benefited so many communities across the county. “We have been reviewing the scheme and feel there is some room to improve it. One of the most exciting aspects is our plan to widen the appeal of the fund to the younger generation. We are proposing to introduce a grant dedicated to individuals under 18s, called Help For You, to help them pursue their ambitions whether they be sporting, musical or academic.” “ We also want to ensure there is a consistent approach in assessing projects across the county. As part of this, we propose that the community chest budget will be managed and allocated locally with funding allocations for each area council , based broadly on the population living within that area.” In future it is proposed that each local area council will have the flexibility to identify particular priority themes which are seen as particularly relevant to their communities. As part of this, both the Ashington & Blyth and Cramlington, Bedlington & Seaton Valley local area councils will have the scope to ring fence an element of their allocations to specifically support the social welfare centres within their areas. Once all local comments have been taken into account, the scheme will be re-launched at the end of July. The deadline for the first round of applications is scheduled for Friday 29 September.
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