Belford Parish Council: Road safety was the only reason for lines plans

The road in Belford which  Well House Coffee Shop and  Well House B and B are on.
The road in Belford which Well House Coffee Shop and Well House B and B are on.
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Two businesswomen who feared a new parking ban would rob their coffee shop of custom have demanded answers from parish councillors behind the idea.

Joan Young, accompanied by co-owner of Well House Coffee Shop Denise Tully, told Belford Parish Council: “We didn’t know anything about it until we read the Gazette. So, I would really like to know what’s going on.”

Chairman Coun Michael Young read out their letter to the council on Thursday night. “We wonder how the parish council expects us to thrive in this bleak economic climate if you stop parking,” they wrote. “As a coffee shop, we rely on passing trade to survive.”

Ms Young told the meeting at Bell View: “We have no problem with yellow lines being further up the street at West Street, but we are a village – you can’t put double yellow lines on both sides or the village will die.”

Councillors explained they had never intended to harm the coffee shop’s trade. Coun Geoff O’Connell said: “We had highlighted a few places in the village where parking was causing a danger.”

Options had been put forward so that at the bottom of Nursery Lane there was enough space for drivers to see traffic on the High Street, but it had not been intended to take yellow lines all the way up to Well House and the coffee shop.

He said that since the issue had been aired, a space had been left so drivers could see up the road. He was just asking for good neighbourliness.

Coun Brenda Stanton said: “It’s not that we are against business – we want to encourage it. But when we get complaints we have to deal with them.”

Coun Chris Rosby said: “We can’t do anything that’s going to stop trade on the main street.” He suggested erecting a convex mirror to improve road safety.

Ms Young asked: “So, the consensus of most of you is that yellow lines would be detrimental?” The chairman said he did not think the lines were ever intended to be near the coffee shop.

County councillor Pat Scott said the county would act on a request from a parish council, but traffic orders required 70 per cent support in the community.

It was agreed to investigate erecting a mirror.

Grave concern for council

The community could pay the price if Belford Parish Council takes on burial grounds just as the local graveyard is reaching capacity, it is feared.

Parishes are being urged to shoulder a number of county council duties, with costs to be borne by local council taxpayers. Coun Geoff O’Connell said: “I’m still deeply concerned because St Mary’s graveyard is going to be full before much longer and if these proposals go through, as I read them we could be stuck with the responsibility.”

There would be three months to hand the old graveyard to the county council, but the problem would be replacing it.

“If we had to acquire three acres of land close to the village, any land agent worth his salt is going to say it’s the best farmland in the country, if not the world.” Then roads, lights and water would have to be put in.

“It’s a serious matter and it’s coming around the corner. By this time next year, we’re going to be closer to the wire on that churchyard coming to the end and I think we should start looking at it now.”

Praise for police efforts for youth

PC Geoff Craddock has been praised by parish councillors for offering to organise sports coaching for local children. He proposes to find out the interests of middle school pupils and try on the council’s behalf to provide what is needed. Coun Geoff O’Connell described it as ‘a perfect example of community policing’ and ‘exemplary’.

Century-old link restored

Belford’s long affinity with the cycling fraternity will be strengthened when bike racks are installed. Among sites to be supplied with racks by the parish council are Bell View, the doctors’ surgery and the Blue Bell Hotel, where a plaque discovered some years ago marked a link with the European Cycle Union in 1906.

Air ambulance deserves support

The Great North Air Ambulance is such an asset to rural communities such as Belford it deserves regular support, councillors say. They stopped short of making an annual financial commitment, in case they face unexpected costs elsewhere, but voted to donate for the third consecutive year. £250 will be given this year.

Lack of response from planners

A site described as an eyesore is still a problem several months after a complaint to county planners, the meeting heard. Coun O’Connell said Nixon’s land was so overgrown that a sheer drop of six to eight feet to the burn was hidden. The matter had been raised with north area planning manager Peter Rutherford in February.