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  1. 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”
  2. 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.”
  3. For further information about the events taking place throughout the PRIDE weekend, please visit here
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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. ·
  11. 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.”
  12. 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”.
  13. 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.
  14. New pothole scheme for local areas

    A new pilot scheme is being introduced to give local areas more say on road improvements. Extra funding of £500,000 has been allocated for a new Northumberland Local Pothole Fund, on top of the £20m already being spent county-wide through this year’s Local Transport Plan capital programme. The five Local Area Councils are each being allocated £100,000, with members of each Area Council invited to submit suggestions on their priorities for permanent repair of key areas suffering from repeat pothole failure or localised drainage issues. The money is being allocated from some of the additional funding from central Government through their National Productivity Investment Fund to help local authorities improve their highway infrastructure. The deadline for the first round of submissions is mid August, and once received, the identified locations will be inspected and assessed to identify the work needed and the potential cost. At this first stage councillors can submit a maximum of three locations per ward for consideration. It is intended that two further rounds of submissions will be invited later in the year, depending on expenditure as repairs progress. Councillor Glen Sanderson, Cabinet Member for Environment and Local Services, said: “Keeping our 3,000 miles of roads in good condition is a priority for us and this scheme is an excellent way for local areas to identify key locations for improvement. “Local councillors know their own roads extremely well and where the issues are, and we are committed to more decision making at a local level through our new Local Area Councils. “While we expect works will be carried out at the majority of locations put forward, our Area Managers will need to consider whether the scale and cost of the repair is appropriate for funding from this programme “It could be the location is already earmarked for other planned maintenance works, or would be better referred for consideration for repair through other larger capital maintenance programmes. “Either way the pilot scheme will ensure areas of concern are being flagged at both a county and local level and long-standing issues with potholes and road surfaces corrected in a timely manner.” A report on the pilot scheme will be presented to Local Area Councils next week.
  15. Council unleashes green dog walkers

    A new initiative has been launched in Northumberland to stop residents and visitors falling foul of their most loyal friends. Northumberland County Council is introducing the Green Dog Walkers scheme, a community-led programme to reduce dog fouling and promote responsible dog ownership across the county. Dog walkers are now being encouraged to join up by signing the Green Dog Walker pledge. Those signing the pledge agree to always clean up after their dog and put the bag in a bin and to use a friendly approach to encourage other dog walkers to do the same. Northumberland County Council will provide a Green Dog Walkers support kit to local community groups and individuals who want to get involved. Those that sign up will be sent a green dog walkers armband to wear when walking their dog to help draw attention to the scheme. They will also be sent green doggy bags and pledge leaflets. Green Dog Walking is intended to be a friendly and non-confrontational approach to changing attitudes to the problem of dog fouling. It will complement other existing council approaches being delivered across the county including issuing fines when irresponsible dog owners are caught allowing their dogs to foul without picking up after them and also through educational initiatives promoting responsible dog ownership. Northumberland County Councillor, Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for the environment and local services said: " Failing to clean up after your dog is unacceptable. Dog fouling is one of our top environmental priorities and one of the issues most commonly raised with us by residents. Not only is it unpleasant but dog dirt can carry serious diseases which can cause blindness and liver disorders, and children are the most susceptible. “The council’s dog wardens work hard to educate the public on responsible dog ownership and our commitment to effective enforcement will continue as before with patrols in problem areas across Northumberland “ Green Dog Walkers will have the power to add to their efforts and change attitudes about dog fouling in Northumberland in a positive and friendly way.” Local ward member for Hexham East, Northumberland County Councillor Cath Homer said : “ I would encourage as many people as possible to get involved and sign the pledge, so we can work together to make a real difference and improve the environment for everyone in Northumberland.” If you are interested in becoming a Green Dog Walker, please email greendogwalkers@northumberland.gov.uk, or for further information about the scheme you can visit the council’s website www.northumberland.gov.uk/greendogwalkers
  16. A new thresholds document has been launched today, 3rd July 2017, by Northumberland Safeguarding Children Board, providing guidance to assist professionals in identifying the most appropriate level of intervention and support. This new guidance, helps to clarify for everyone who works with children, the shared agreement on thresholds which have been developed by Northumberland County Council and colleagues on the multi agency Northumberland Local Safeguarding Children Board. The importance of providing help to families at the earliest possible opportunity remains imperative for all professionals who work with vulnerable young people and their families. When concerns become more complex, or where early identification and intervention do not appear to assist in reducing risk, it becomes increasingly important that professionals are able to utilise guidance on what might be the most appropriate “next step”. A new ‘Unborn Thresholds’ document has also been developed which focuses on the specific needs of unborn babies and their families. The new documents will be be used primarily as a helpful indicator of the types of interventions that are felt to be the most appropriate for families. To help support organisations, a large A2 poster of the thresholds document has been designed for organisations to put up in staff areas for easy reference, a webinar has been produced explaining the context and purpose of the document, and case studies have been produced for training exercises with staff to facilitate their understanding of how the documents should be used. Wayne Daley, Northumberland County Council’s Deputy Leader and cabinet member for Children’s Services, said: “Providing early help means providing support as soon as a problem emerges, at any point in a child’s life. “The new thresholds documents will help us and our colleagues in other organisations to identify issues and provide help at the earliest possible opportunity .” Paula Mead, Independent Chair of the multi-agency Northumberland Safeguarding Children Board said: “It is really important for children, young people and their families, that agencies provide them with the right level of support as early as possible. “This document is a tool that helps front-line staff to identify the most appropriate level of intervention and support that children and families need. ” Further information can be found on the Northumberland County Council website www.northumberland.gov.uk/thresholds
  17. Northumbria Police and Northumberland County Council are supporting the Young Drivers Event on Tuesday, 4 July, in Hexham. The event, which is to be held at Hexham Mart, Tyne Green, has been arranged jointly by Fire and Rescue, Police and Northumberland Community Safety and follows a similar event in Alnwick earlier this month. The event is to start at 6pm and runs through until 9pm several emergency services will be in attendance and will provide information and live demonstrations to drivers to highlight key issues and concerns on our roads. It's aimed at young people aged 14-24 but all are welcome to join. The evening begins with an opportunity to view modified cars, speak to medics, Fire and Rescue, paramedics, driving instructors, as well as Northumberland Blood Bike volunteers. You'll also hear from Northumbria's specialist Op Dragoon police, a dedicated team targeting road safety. ROSPA advanced motoring instructors will be on hand to give you a free driving assessment in your own car and a local mechanic will be available to carry out free vehicle checks. Northumbria Police Inspector, Pam Bridges said, “This is a great chance for young people who are already driving or thinking about learning to drive to really understand road safety. You'll see what's involved in a live extraction from a vehicle that's been in a mock accident and get hands-on with other live demonstrations, including a simulated drive with 'beer goggles' to see how dangerous drink driving can really be. For just a few hours of your time, you could learn something that could one day make a big difference or even save your life." Councillor John Riddle, Cabinet Member for Planning, Housing, Public Protection and Fire, said: 'The Young Driver Safety events have a great benefit to drivers and the local community. The events provide a range of information and demonstrations regarding safe driving and provide the attendees with information that they can take away and put into use when on our roads, giving them further education into safe driving with benefits for everyone." The event also provides the opportunity for drivers to have free assessed drives in their own car by ROSPA advanced motoring instructors along with free vehicle examinations carried out by a local mechanic.
  18. Help stop the spread of measles

    Northumberland County Council is reminding parents of the importance of the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine, as a very effective way to prevent infection and stop measles from spreading. Measles is caused by a virus which can spread quickly through coughing and sneezing, person-to-person contact, or by touching a contaminated surface. The illness is highly infectious and can cause a rash and high fever. It can also cause serious health complications such as lung and brain infections, especially in babies under a year, teenagers and adults. There are currently large outbreaks of measles across some areas of Europe and with the summer holidays approaching and increasing travel there is a risk of measles being brought back to the UK by people who have not been completely vaccinated. In the last year, there have also been measles cases linked to music festivals and other large public events, mainly in teenagers and young adults. Elizabeth Morgan, Interim Public Health Director, said: “Fortunately, the MMR vaccine is a very effective way to prevent infection and stop measles from spreading to people who can't have the vaccine. Whatever your age, if you think you or your children may not have received two doses of the MMR vaccine, or you are unsure, speak to your GP - it's never too late to have the vaccine and measles can still be serious in adults. “ Northumberland County Councillor Veronica Jones, cabinet member for Adult Care and Public Health, said: “We would encourage all parents to have their children vaccinated against measles. It is important that we raise awareness of health issues and the danger of measles, so parents can make an informed choice about the vaccine.” Dr Alistair Blair, a GP in Morpeth and Clinical Chair at NHS Northumberland CCG, said: “Measles is highly infectious and children and adults who haven’t been vaccinated or had the infection before are at risk if measles is circulating. “There is no treatment for measles but it can be prevented by the MMR vaccine and two doses are required to ensure the best protection. “If anyone has missed out on MMR in the past it’s always possible to catch-up as the vaccine can be given at any age. Just contact your local GP.”
  19. Northumberland Archives at Woodhorn has acquired a collection which has been independently assessed as ‘probably the most important archive of Northumbrian social history’ that was still in private hands. The collection of papers from Dickson, Archer & Thorp Solicitors of Alnwick charts the history of the 200 year old practice from its establishment in the late 18th century until its closure and the death of the last managing partner in 2003. The collection has been purchased by Northumberland County Council’s Archives team at Woodhorn thanks to a series of grants, including from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF); the Arts Council England and V&A Purchase Grant Fund; Friends of the National Libraries; and the Lord Crewe Trustees, with the total purchase cost £150,000. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, a HLF grant of £77,400 was awarded to assist with the purchase of the collection and it will also allow Northumberland Archives to engage a volunteer co-ordinator who will work with a team of volunteers to clean, package and undertake basic listing of the collection. The practice had a wide client base dealing with probate cases from families of relatively modest means to handling the business of many county families including that of the Duke of Northumberland. Practice partners were also involved in governance both county-wide and more locally. The collection comprises in excess of 400 archive boxes or more than eight cubic metres of records. Cllr Cath Homer, cabinet member for culture, arts and leisure at Northumberland County Council said: “This is a fantastic acquisition for Northumberland Archives. Once the content has been sorted and listed it will be an amazing resource for those studying family history or local history and also people interested in old wills or in criminal cases. It will give an incredible insight into the history of Alnwick and the wider community. Ivor Crowther, Head of HLF North East, added: “We’re delighted that National Lottery players’ money can support Northumberland Archives to acquire this significant record of local history. The project will not only secure the collection’s future, but also share this heritage with the community through an exhibition and exciting new volunteering opportunities.” Northumberland County Council has recently taken over management of the county’s archive and modern records service in a move that will ensure the sustainability of the collections for the people of Northumberland and further afield. The council is committed to investment in preserving its historical records, and plans are already being developed to increase public access to the collections both online and through outreach programmes. The services also play a key role in strengthening the Council's overall records management, ensuring that in this digital age, the local authority is able to control and govern the vast amount of information it owns.
  20. Landowners who may be experiencing problems with unauthorised encampments are encouraged to call on the expertise of officers at Northumberland County Council. At this time of year the county sees an increase in the number of unauthorised traveller and non-traveller sites being established on private land. For a fixed-negotiation charge Northumberland County Council is now offering support to landowners through its fully rounded, professional service, which would ensure a quick resolution and smooth move-on of the group from the site. The council has a dedicated Liaison Officer, who works with traveller and non-traveller communities, who can be called upon to begin negotiations with the group, or take up any welfare concerns. A landowner could also be given support from the council’s legal and public protection teams, should court action be required to remove the encampment. John Riddle, Cabinet member for Planning, Housing and Resilience at the council, said: “Where a landowner may not want to conduct negotiations with an unauthorised encampment themselves, they can approach us to help with the move-on process. “Our officers have years of experience and knowledge of working with traveller groups, and often know the families who travel through the county on a regular basis. “Landowners are encouraged to take advantage of this expertise to ensure the smooth removal of a group from their land. “In most cases there are no issues with these types of encampments, but where a landowner feels they need some extra support the council can help.” A fee of £200 would be levied to a landowner for officer time in visiting and managing a move-on of the encampment, this would increase to £400 if court preparation papers or attendance at court by an officer, was required. Any further costs, such as bailiff costs or exceptional court costs would be agreed with the landowner first.
  21. Archaeologists working for the National Lottery funded Peregrini Lindisfarne Community Archaeology project have made exciting new discoveries which may well have turned a long held belief about the Holy Island of Lindisfarne on its head. The remote and beautiful island holds a special place in history. Known as the ‘Cradle of Christianity’ in the North East, it was here that St Aidan established a monastery in AD635 and set out to convert the pagan Northumbrians. The monastery developed into an international centre of learning and craftsmanship and it was during this Golden Age of Northumbria that exquisite items such as the Lindisfarne Gospels were produced. All this came to a crashing end with the arrival of the Vikings in the late 8th Century. Many in academic and ecclesiastical circles have long maintained that the close linear arrangement of the the Parish Church of St Marys with the Priory church is evidence of the original locations of the two Anglo-Saxon churches on Holy Island. This close linear relation is evidenced at other early Northumbrian monasteries such as Hexham and Jarrow. Until this summer the assumption has been that the original Anglo-Saxon churches stood down in the shelter a high rocky ridge known as of the Heugh in the area now occupied by the Parish Church and the Priory. But excavations during the last four weeks up on the Heugh suggest a very different configuration. The excavation has revealed the stone foundations of a small rectangular building with a chancel type configuration at the east end. The crude and unmortared walls, very simple window arches and positioning of a possible alter stone all suggest an early date which has led to speculation that this is a church building which could date from the 7th century. The Venerable Bede, writing in c.731, records that St Aidan arrived in Northumbria from St. Columba’s monastery on Iona in 635AD at the request of King Oswald and was gifted the Holy Island of Lindisfarne to establish his own monastery. The parallels between the islands of Iona and Lindisfarne are remarkable and it is easy to understand how this was a suitable location for Aidan to evangelise and convert the Northumbrians, especially given the close visual relationship between the island and the royal court of Oswald at Bamburgh. Contemporary historical sources refer to at least two churches on Lindisfarne, a small timber one built by Aidan and later one built by Finian which was dedicated to St. Peter. Richard Carlton, the director of The Archaeological Practice running the community archaeology dig on behalf of the Peregrini Lindisfarne HLF Landscape Partnership Scheme said: “This second year of investigation on the Heugh has exceeded all my expectation. And with work still to be done to revisit the watch tower structure identified last year and work in the Lantern Chapel building there is potential for the Heugh to yield more of its secrets.” Excavations last year further west on the Heugh revealed a massive foundation wall that archaeologist are now speculating is a foundation for a ‘watch tower’. The Venerable Bede, in his ‘Life of St. Cuthbert’, made reference to a signal from Inner Farne being seen from the watch tower on Holy Island to mark the death of St Cuthbert. Sara Rushton, Conservation Manager at Northumberland County Council, said: “This latest discovery of a potential church building on the Heugh cements Holy Island as one of the most significant early medieval sites in Britain. It is incredible to think that we have uncovered two very significant buildings associated with the early Christian foundation of the priory that provide tangible links to both St. Aidan and St. Cuthbert.” The monastic tradition on Iona, where Aidan came from, was much more dispersed than the patterns that developed at Hexham and Jarrow. The Irish monastic tradition was for small chapels and ‘turas’ type buildings defining the monastic precinct. The scatter configuration of buildings on Heugh certainly seems to have parallels with Iona where there were at least six chapels and this new discovery could be one of a number of chapels within the monastic complex. In addition the close visual relation between the buildings on the Heugh and the castle at Bamburgh, which the priory does not have, is significant and supports the early date. The Peregrini Lindisfarne project is a Landscape Partnership Project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) thanks to National Lottery players and has been developed to conserve, enhance and celebrate the natural and cultural heritage of Holy Island and the wider shoreside landscape. The project is hosted by Northumberland County Council’s planning department. Cllr John Riddle, portfolio holder for planning at the council said: “Community participation is at the heart of the Peregrini project and this Community Archaeology has been a brilliant opportunity for people to get hands-on experience of absolutely fantastic archaeology which illustrates how wonderful the cultural heritage of our beautiful county is.” Ivor Crowther, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund North East, said: “The North East is full of incredible heritage and this find shows that there is still so many stories left to discover. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players we’re delighted to support this project which is putting communities at the heart of celebrating the history of their landscape and creating strong partnerships to ensure its bright future.”
  22. Northumberland County Council is about to embark on a major refurbishment within Hexham’s historic Queen’s Hall to create a fantastic new facility that will provide an integrated library, customer and visitor information centre all under one roof. The investment scheme will breathe new life into the library area which has not had any major refurbishment work done to it for over 35 years. It has been designed taking customer needs into account and will create a convenient, modern and accessible service area for residents and visitors. Unfortunately while this work is taking place there will be some brief disruption to the library and tourist information services. These services will be temporarily relocated into the former Tourist Information Centre in the Wentworth Car Park for a twelve week period. A range of normal tourism and library services will continue to be provided here including four public access computers. The possibility of locating additional public computers into the foyer of the Wentworth Leisure Centre is also being explored. To allow for the organisation of this move the library will close at the Queen’s Hall on Saturday 1 July and reopen at Wentworth on Monday 17th July. Customers are currently being informed of the arrangements through social media, posters, fliers and via the website. Alison Elsdon, Director of Corporate Resources at Northumberland County Council said: “ It is great news that part of this wonderful historic building is to be given a new lease of life and the town will receive enhanced, joined up local services. “ We appreciate there will be some disruption to these services while the work is taking place and we are working hard to minimise the impact. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused, but I hope residents bear with us. “ Families can be reassured that the children’s Summer Reading Challenge will go ahead as planned and we are making arrangements to hold summer library activities in Wentworth Leisure Centre.” When the library is closed for two weeks, members will be able to renew or reserve books, 24/7 on the library website www.mylibrary.co.uk or through the library customer service line on 01670 620250. There will also be a book drop-off point at the Queen’s Hall. Corbridge TIC and Library is open six days a week, Monday - Saturday 10am - 4.30pm (closed 1-1.30pm) for those who wish to and are able to travel. A tourist information leaflet point will also be present in the foyer of the Queen’s Hall and staff will also be on hand to answer any enquiries that come in on the Hexham Tourist Information phone line. “ We are reviewing the plans for the layout of the new library with the aim of giving the best level of service to our customers. No definitive decisions have been made regarding the location of the local history collection.” added Cath Homer.
  23. Northumberland County Council has announced steps to take forward a project that will secure new schools and leisure for Ponteland. The council has carried out a review of previous plans, aimed at to ensuring that investment will provide the best long-term solution for students and the local community. The original outline planning application for the construction of a new Ponteland High and primary school, alongside a new leisure centre, has been reviewed and the County Council is working hard to address concerns raised by residents. The four Ponteland County Councillors asked officers to look at all possible options in detail that will not only provide new schools, but also provide for the long-term interests of the whole community. In order to facilitate the design changes, Northumberland County Council is to withdraw the outline planning application originally submitted in December 2016. A detailed planning application will now be developed and will be brought forward as soon as possible. The submission of a detailed application will also ensure that educational provision for the students on roll at the schools is secured by enabling the construction of the buildings to take place along the shortest achievable timescale. This will mean any requirement to provide temporary accommodation at the school sites will be kept to a minimum Cllr Wayne Daley, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children’s Services at Northumberland County Council said: “While we remain committed to the investment of £57m into local education and leisure in Ponteland, we have to be sure that this is going to deliver the best possible educational environment for pupils across Northumberland. “We are working hard to ensure we address all of the of concerns raised by parents and residents in Ponteland to achieve the best possible educational outcome for the young people there.”
  24. Extra payment options for post-16 transport are being introduced as the new administration looks to make the charge easier for households to manage. The county council is now looking to carry out a comprehensive review of the policy which sees over 100 students in the county having 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' While it was not possible for the administration to bring in any changes to its Post 16 Transport Policy ahead of the statutory deadline for the 2017/18 school year, it has implemented a new payment system which allows families to spread payments more evenly. Over the past year 127 students paid for post 16 transport. Of these 25 paid the fee as a lump sum and 102 choose to pay in instalments. Previously the £600 charge could be paid as a lump sum or as a payment of £200 followed by eight monthly payments by direct debit of £50. In a bid to help ease household budgeting, students will now be offered a third payment method from September 2017 - eight payments of £75 via direct debit. Deputy Council Leader Wayne Daley, who is also Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “As a council we believe the current post 16 travel charges are unfair and we are committed to overhauling this policy. “While statutory deadlines meant we couldn’t make any major changes for the coming school year 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. “We hope this new system will make things a little easier for some households while we carry out a root and branch review of the whole policy.” The £600 travel charge for students attending their nearest educational establishments where public transport is not available was introduced by the previous council administration.
  25. At its meeting on 5th July Northumberland County Council will consider a motion to withdraw the Northumberland Local Plan Core Strategy from Government and to carry out a review of some aspects of the document. Members of the council’s conservative group have submitted the motion which is also asking officers to undertake a full review of the housing and employment numbers, and strategic land use allocations, for the plan period up to 2031. In the motion members stress their support for economic and housing growth to support communities, as well as their commitment to the ambitions of the North East LEP strategic economic plan and North of Tyne devolution agenda. They question however 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. The proposed level of new housing in the County, at 24,320 by 2031 plus the inclusion of up to an additional 2,000 houses at Dissington Garden Village over and above objectively assessed need, are seen as significant issues. In response to the motion a report to full council by Geoff Paul, the council’s director of planning and economy, sets out the key issues raised by the motion, and what the process for withdrawing the Core Strategy would be. It highlights an opportunity to review the housing numbers required for Northumberland to deliver sustainable economic and housing growth through a recent refresh of the North East Strategic Economic Plan, expected revisions to national planning policy and recent and anticipated national publications on housing and population projections. Coun Peter Jackson, Leader of Northumberland County Council said: “Our group has long questioned some of the assumptions which were used by the previous council in drawing up the Core Strategy. “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. “The new council which we are leading is determined to support and protect our communities and to plan for a sustainable and prosperous future for our county and the wider region and we therefore wanted to propose a review at the first opportunity. “I can promise that the most up-to-date available evidence will inform our review and that the new plan for our county will be produced as soon as possible." Cllr John Riddle, cabinet member for planning, housing and resilience at Northumberland County Council added: “We have listened carefully to our communities and want to implement this review of the core strategy to ensure that it is truly fit to address the future housing and economic needs of Northumberland, whilst respecting the environment and protecting our beautiful county.” 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. It would also need to determine at which stage in the plan-making process it would need to go back to in order to make any necessary changes, and discussions are currently taking place with DCLG in an attempt to arrange a Ministerial visit to speak to the council leadership about the potential scenarios relating to the strategy. Members have said that they would wish the work to be done as quickly as possible, so that the strategy can be re-submitted to Government as soon as is practicable. Risks raised within the council report include the possibility of Government intervention in preparation of the plan due to the delayed timescale, and also of speculative or unplanned development in the county whilst changes are made to the plan. There could also be the increased likelihood of planning appeals where the council has used the draft plan to resist development proposals. Some current applications may also require re-consideration by committee. The full council will consider the motion and the report at its meeting at 3pm on Wednesday 5th July in County Hall, Morpeth. More about the Core Strategy The Northumberland Local Plan Core Strategy sets out the proposed strategic planning policies of the council to guide future development and planning decisions in Northumberland up to 2031. In line with national planning policy, the council must provide a positive planning policy framework that supports and grows the economy. One of the main premises of the currently submitted plan is that without positive policy intervention Northumberland will not have the working age population to support delivery of the Council’s Economic Strategy, or the ambitions of the North East LEP Strategic Economic Plan. A draft plan was submitted to Government on 7th April 2017 for independent examination.