Reflecting on changes and looking forward

Protests against the closure of Seahouses Middle School were ultimately in vain.
Protests against the closure of Seahouses Middle School were ultimately in vain.

The neighbourhood plan and the imminent closure of the middle school were among the key issues in Seahouses and North Sunderland over the last year.

Giving his annual report at Monday night’s meeting of North Sunderland Parish Council, the chairman, Geoffrey Stewart, who was re-elected for another year, thanked members and the clerk for their efforts and paid tribute to former councillor, Bill Weeks, who passed away in February.

The cemetery in North Sunderland, where the extension was completed just in time.

The cemetery in North Sunderland, where the extension was completed just in time.

Among the main issues for the council was the cemetery extension, which ‘was completed just in time because we will be entering into the new third phase in the very near future’, and its new website is now live too – www.northsun derlandparishcouncil.co.uk
Coun Stewart was positive about the neighbourhood plan initiative, working in conjunction with Beadnell and Bamburgh, which has led to the parishes ‘becoming more integrated, cohesive and proactively effective in raising awareness of our unique position within our coastal communities’.

Far less positive was the decision to switch to two-tier education in the Alnwick Partnership, which means that Seahouses Middle School will close and ‘therefore many adjustments and feelings of loss are being felt by all those affected’.

Coun Stewart also reflected on some of the other organisations which provide value to the community, providing a run-down of the extensive list of activities taking place at The Hub at Seahouses Sports and Community Centre, as well as mentioning the youth project, which has had the highest number of young people attending for a number of years, and praising the ‘amazing displays’ provided by the Festive Lights Committee.

On tourism, he added: “Major national TV programmes continue to show Northumberland at its best which, together with high-profile awards to local businesses, are instrumental in bringing an upsurge of interested tourists and inquiries regarding all aspects of our local area, resulting in a noticeable effect here and throughout the county.”

Despite these positives, Coun Stewart expressed his frustration at the relationship between the parish council and the county council, as he has done in previous years.

He said: “Our experience of the Northumberland County Council ‘countywide system’ continues to bring local parish councils frustrating challenges, particularly in the way the county council is determined to shift costly responsibilities onto small parish councils such as ours.”

Concluding, Coun Stewart said: “I find myself looking forward to the challenges of continuing growth, particularly for our parish of North Sunderland and Seahouses, but also for our closer links now forged with Bamburgh and Beadnell through the neighbourhood plan initiative.

“I continue personally to feel working for our parish and surrounding area is fulfilling and rewarding.

“I would also recommend others to join with us in channelling and giving freely of their talents and expertise as proactive members within and for our community.”

Coun David Shiel was re-elected as vice-chairman of the parish council and meetings will continue to take place on the first Monday of the month (except for bank holidays) at 7pm in the Sheltered Housing Community Centre, Stone Close.