Alan Castle: One way to split a community

THERE is nothing more certain to split a village than a housing development, no matter what size.

Over the past year, this has been happening in Beadnell, where the local fishermen’s association wanted to build four homes, which was later reduced to three, two at the Haven and another at the nearby White Rock site.

The harbour was gifted by Sir John Craster, a local landowner, to the fishermen over half a century ago and is unique in that it is the only west-facing harbour on the east coast.

Why does the fishermen’s association want to develop houses, you may ask? The answer is quite simple; they need the money to keep up the repairs of the harbour and to dredge it to keep it usable.

But when the plans for this area of outstanding natural beauty were announced, a hornet’s nest of protest was aroused.

It led to some of the longest letters I have ever seen or read in the Gazette from both protesters and those representing the fishermen.

Beadnell, in recent years, has changed from a tiny little fishing hamlet with a row of largely expensive holiday homes into a holiday home village, where in the winter, the majority of the houses, I reckon, will be empty. Inland, the village on the land side is surrounded by caravans and camp sites.

But that did not stop 2,662 people signing a petition against, (surely not all Beadnell residents), a Save Beadnell Association being formed, Beadnell Parish Council objecting along with over 100 letters of objections split between the two developments all being sent to council planners.

Despite all that Northumberland County Council planners had recommended approval. Councillors, however have thrown out the plans.

We are told that the Save Beadnell Association has offered a hand of friendship to the fishermen and are willing to help them raise funds for the upkeep of the harbour.

Has that offer been accepted? Not on you nelly. The fishermen’s spokesman has said the plans will be re-submitted in their present form.

This one has a lot of mileage in it yet and looks and I am sure even longer letters in the pages of the Gazette.

I NOTE that the Fire Brigade Union is furious over talks that are likely to see Cumbria and Northumberland Fire Brigades merged. It has come about because at present Northumberland does not have a fire chief. The Cumbria fire chief put forward the idea and it would save money it is claimed.

The Union is mad, seemingly because the man will get a wage increase for extra responsibility and said the proposed benefits risk and cost saving have not been detailed.

In days gone by there were protests over the then Northumberland County Council decision to reduce a number of fire stations from full to part time. As far as I know this has been done successfully and no lives have been lost as a result and fires are still dealt with efficiently. Surely if it saves cash the idea is worth considering and being supported by all.

FOR some weeks now relatives and friends from all over the county have been relating back to me how house martins, swallows and swifts had returned to their nesting sites.

Each evening I would scan the skies looking for arrivals in my part of the world but night after night I was disappointed. Had their been a disaster to these wonderful that winter in Africa birds that bring so much joy to the skies in the summer months?

But it has ended happily. Last week I looked up and saw a house martin and by the next day they were numerous and the swifts arrived two days later. I suppose they have got things just right, the east coast, is as a rule always colder than the rest of the county and so their arrival is delayed. Mother Nature always gets her timing right.