Alan Castle: Voting time again

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THERE is quite an unusual happening occurring in Alnwick within the next few days.

You, dear reader will get the chance to elect four members to the Castle Ward of Alnwick Town Council.

Yes, an election is being held. Instead of people, as occasionally in the past, just being asked to fill a vacancy, you will have your right to vote for your preferred candidate.

The old boys’ or girls’ network seemed to work even at this low level of local government.

But what is even rarer is that we have what can only be described as a host of candidates contesting for the privilege to serve on this august body and look after the interests of the town and its residents.

I urge all in Alnwick to vote at the May 5 election, for which nine men and women have put their names forward at the time of writing.

I also notice, for a change, all have declared their political allegiance. Four will be standing for the Conservatives, one for the Green Party, one Independent, one Labour, and two Lib-Dems. What politics has to do with this level of local government have always been beyond me.

Three of those standing do not even live in the town, although that is no bar to seeking election.

But what I find interesting is with such a large field competing, with just over a week to go for the voters to decide, I have not received one piece of election material through my door, or heard or seen of any of the candidates.

I know the Gazette will be printing portraits of the candidates today and although the circulation of the newspaper is near saturation in Alnwick, not every person buys a copy.

Are these people not wanting our votes, are they not interested in putting forward their views on what they will do and why they are standing?

I often think if they cannot be bothered to inform me of their views, why I should take the time to go and vote for them when I know little or nothing about any of them? But I will.

Let us hope that our mail boxes, already cluttered with junk mail, may in the final few days before May 5 bring us enlightenment from those seeking our vote.

Those willing to do so might find the effort worthwhile in their bid to gain a foothold on the lower rungs of democracy.

A REPORT published in the last few days highlights the amount of pollution still being washed up in an area which is of outstanding natural beauty.

We boast of having some of the best beaches in the country, yet in the North East there are thousands of unwanted pieces of rubbish dumped or washed ashore every year.

The survey, by the Marine Conservation Society Beachwatch Big Weekend, showed a 230 per cent increase on last year in sewage-related debris (SRD) in the North East region.

I always thought that modern sewage works ensured that no such rubbish ever reached the beaches, but that is not the case, as found by the survey.

As a result, the Society is appealing to all not to use the toilet as a dumping bin for such things as cotton buds, tampons, condoms and so forth. They want you to bin it rather than flush it.

The survey along the North East coast, which included beaches at Alnmouth, Annstead, Bamburgh, Beadnell, Berwick, Cresswell, Druridge Bay, Embleton Bay, Howick Haven, Low Newton, Seahouses and Warkworth found that 42.5 per cent of the debris was dropped by people, fishing debris 9.5 per cent, SRD 8.1 per cent, shipping rubbish 1.5 per cent, fly tipping 0.8 per cent and medical 0.3 per cent.

In all, some 5,000 volunteers picked up 330,107 items – enough to fill 3,000 bags or 2,000 pieces of litter every kilometre – which really is pretty disgusting.

So, if you are either walking or sitting on the beach having a picnic, please remember to take the rubbish home and when you use the bathroom, bin it don’t flush it.

Consequences have actions and as an area which relies so heavily on tourism, we can’t afford such mess.