Belford Parish Council

THE parish council has made a plea to residents to take more pride in the village and how it looks, in particular the High Street.

Coun Brenda Jackson raised the issue as she was particularly concerned by the look of the shop fronts.

“At the toy shop, the roof’s caved in and it’s never open,” she said. “The old pine shop is bad and then you come to the old Spar. The village is looking tatty, it’s looking poor.”

Coun Mike Brookes said that a number of regular visitors to the Blue Bell Hotel have been commenting on the state of Belford as well.

Coun Geoff O’Connell said: “There seems to be no pride in the property they own.”

Members agreed that an open letter was to be written for the next issue of On Your Doorstep to appeal to residents to tidy up the village and High Street, pointing out that there are benefits such as increasing property prices.

On a more positive note for the future of the village, Coun O’Connell said: “There are two retail businesses looking to come into the Market Square and High Street.”

THE county council is going to provide the parish council with all its winter plans for the village so that the best plan for Belford in the event of severe weather can be formulated.

Richard Hayes, Northumberland County Council highways north area maintenance manager, also answered questions from members about the winter weather protocol for roads.

He said that the county council would try to provide support to any process or plan that the community puts into place.

He also confirmed that if the village wanted to invest in a plough attachment for clearing pavements, it could be bought in a batch with the county, thereby saving money.

However he did warn parishes that they shouldn’t base their decisions solely on the last two winters.

Mr Hayes also said that the county was expecting an announcement this week on the Government funding allocation for potholes.

Last year it was given £1.5million and is hoping for a similar settlement this year.

“We have raided reserves two years on the belt now and we have raided reserves to repair the damage caused by winter,” he added.

Following a question from Coun Jackson, Mr Hayes agreed that the county would look at giving direct numbers to parish councils to enable paricular serious problems to be communicated quickly.

THE dispute between the parish council and Belford Development Trust over carnival funds rolls on with the matter still not settled to the satisfaction of members.

A public meeting is to be held to try to resolve the issue once and for all.

Coun Brookes said: “I feel quite positve after speaking with Phil (Nicholson, development trust treasurer) last week in terms of moving things forward.”

Coun Ian Carruthers said: “There’s still questions that need to be answered.”

Coun Jackson reminded members that the funds could only be transferred when a carnival committee is properly constituted.

Couns O’Connell and Carruthers then formed a new carnival committee as part of the discussions.

Chairman Coun Michael Young said: “All we can do is wait for this public meeting.”

FOLLOWING a tour of the allotment sites, Coun Chris Rosby reported that the boundaries seemed to be correct and the allotment users were happy.

At the Bell Road site, the tenants pay £41 for an allotment whereas at The Meadows, the charge was much lower.

“Those with allotments at the Meadows said they would not pay £41 a year.

Coun Rosby said: “The tenants were worried that the costs were going to rise saying they would just pack it in if it was £41.”

He suggested a compromise of charging £20 for each allotment so that it was fair for everybody.

The tenants at the Meadows site would pay slightly more while those at the Bell Road site would pay less than before.

Members agreed to charge £20 for all the allotments.

THE county council is to take action to improve the safety of schoolchildren in the village.

At last month’s parish council meeting, Coun Brookes passed on the concerns of the pupils at St Mary’s Middle School regarding road safety outside their school.

County Coun Pat Scott had ensured someone from the county council had gone to look at the road outside the school to resolve the issue.

It is proposing to move the no parking restrictions from where the entrance to the school used to be so people can park there towards West Street.

Coun Brookes reported that the school’s headteacher is happy with this solution.

Coun O’Connell said that this should be passed on to the children so they can see that the parish council has listened to what they said and sorted it out.

A LETTER is to be sent to the county council to try to resolve an issue with a house in the village which has slates hanging from its roof.

Members were concerned that somebody could be seriously injured.

MEMBERS agreed to support a planning application for the Black Swan, Belford.

Support is on condition that a problematic extractor fan is moved so that it doesn’t blow over the adjacent property and the ‘patchwork of concrete’ at the back is tidied up.

FOLLOWING a letter from a resident over dog fouling, members heard that the county council will send warning letters if residents report, anonymously if they wish, the name of a dog owner who lets their dog foul without cleaning it up.

COUN O’Connell said the permission granted to Sunnyhills of Belford for a sign on the A1 was a victory for the parish council. “The parish council deserves a pat on the back for taking such a resolute position on this,” he said.

MEMBERS agreed that the Christmas lights accounts could be published on the parish noticeboard as it was “good for transparency”.

COUN Jackson reported that the residents of Detchant were planning a meeting to discuss the state of the road and the issue of large HGVS using it.

THE clerk is to chase up the request to the county council for two extra grit bins.

THE chairman said that the repairs to the bus shelter by The Meadows had still not been done.

THE next meeting takes place in Bell View on Thursday, April 21 at 7pm.