Hundreds give views on future

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ALMOST 700 people have responded to the initial consultations undertaken as part of the Alnwick and Denwick Neighbourhood Plan in January, the town council has heard.

The exercise highlighted views on the key issues facing the town and area over the next 15 years, the most important issue being the need to provide quality education facilities and resources.

That was followed by the need to develop and widen employment opportunities and maintaining the range of shops and services in the area. The need to improve the bus station was also highlighted by respondents.

A wide range of other comments were also made in relation to issues such as car parking, the need for more activities and places for young people to go and improving the Market Place.

Coun Sue Patience said: “We thought it was a fair response following the delivery of 4,280 questionnaires and three public consultation events, considering it also generated 40 pages of comments from respondents.”

Coun Gordon Castle added: “It’s remarkable that the overwhelming priority of people in Alnwick is educational facilities and I was also surprised by the high percentage of support for a new or improved bus station.

“It could do with improving and that’s something with which the town council could put pressure on Arriva.”

More than 86 per cent of the responses came from people over the age of 35, with the over-65s accounting for the largest number of returned questionnaires, at just under 39 per cent.

Of the 688 respondents, 342 said they would like to be kept informed about how the plan develops, while 45 said they would like to becoming actively involved in shaping it.

The comments made will be considered and used in the development of options during the next stage of the plan process.

CIVIC PRIDE: A scheme to reward good service in the Alnwick community, which was lost following the demise of the district council, is being revived by the town’s mayor.

The town council agreed unanimously to re-introduce the annual Civic Awards, particularly in light of the forthcoming Olympic Torch visit in June which will celebrate community spirit and achievement.

The idea was first raised by Mayor Alan Symmonds when he began his year in office as the ceremonial head of the town council, as one of his stated objectives.

He said: “The concept was raised at a meeting of the Festival of Alnwick committee where it was felt that a celebration of achievement should not be limited to sport. I saw it to be equally appropriate to link it to the Queen’s Jubilee, which I see both as a celebration of her long reign and the service she has constantly and continually given within that reign.

“Alnwick District Council operated a successful civic awards scheme to recognise the unsung heroes in our town with two categories, firstly for residents and secondly for young people.

“My intention is that the scheme will be launched on March 19, with a closing date for nominations of April 20 and a presentation ceremony in the first week of May.

“I hope that councillors will both support this and attend the presentation evening itself.”

CRY FREEDOM: Armed Forces Week in Alnwick is set to be boosted by the presence of hundreds of military cadets, who will be celebrating being given the Freedom of Northumberland.

In line with previous years, the town council is arranging a flag-raising ceremony on Monday, June 25 at 11am, with a parade passing through Alnwick on Saturday, June 30 at 11am, followed by the lowering of the flag at 5.30pm that afternoon.

But this year, Northumberland Army Cadet Force will also be exercising their official Freedom of the county by parading through the town, forming the first part of the parade.

Mayor Alan Symmonds told the town council: “There will be up to 250 cadets taking part, which will certainly enhance the occasion and parade and hopefully we will do everything we can as councillors to support Armed Forces Week, which is an important tribute to our servicemen and women.”

PARKING PROBLEMS: A paper to address continued illegal parking in Alnwick Market Place has been drawn up and will be presented to the North Area Committee, the town council has heard.

At their monthly meeting last Thursday, town clerk Bill Batey told members that a number of options had been drawn up by officers at County Hall on the issue, which has seen the square turned into an unofficial car park despite regulations banning anything other than loading and unloading.

“The county is working on a paper that’s going before the April meeting of the area committee, which will put forward options,” he said. “The county has said they will share the details with us in due course.”

FRUIT AND NUTS: Town councillors have agreed to foot the insurance bill for the Bullfield Community Orchard for the next year.

The cost of £276 will be met from the remaining £413 left in a budget managed by the Recreation and Amenities Committee for the orchard, which opened last March and is leased by Alnwick Friends of the Earth.

Fruit and Nuts for Alnwick is a project established in 2009 which aims to plant as many fruit and nut trees as possible across Alnwick and the surrounding villages.

NEXT MEETING: The next meeting of Alnwick Town Council takes place on Thursday, April 12 at 7pm in the Council Chamber on Clayport Street.