Alan Castle: Cash crisis? All I see are runaway spendaholics

THERE are warnings of a double-dip recession given the deep financial crisis surrounding the Euro and the failed economies of some European countries.

But if you had been with me the other evening in Newcastle, you would have thought nothing was amiss. The huge retail stores that now dominate our city centre shopping were filled to bursting. Buyers in Marks and Sparks were spending as if there was no tomorrow.

Are we really in such dire financial straits or are we are drawing in our financial belts as the media would have us believe?

Just look at the headlines in the Gazette regarding second homes and holiday lets.

Take Bamburgh as an example, where there are many second homes and have been for over half a century. In the past, city dwellers used to come and stay from Easter through to September. We now have former council homes in this much sought-after village being put on the market for over £200,000.

The result is that no young local person starting off in their married life can afford such prices, or even the rents that are being asked. It follows that if they cannot get a home, they move out. Next the local school closes and the village shops in the winter either close or have little custom.

Beadnell, we are told, dies in the winter because of the huge number of second homes, the same happens in Seahouses, Embleton and a host of other rural villages.

Often you find that they are not second homes but have been bought as an investment and they are let out during the summer season for exorbitant amounts of cash. Some are converted farm cottages where a two-week holiday let will bring in more that many former occupiers would earn in a year or more.

Is it not time for some form of regulation, so that villages can grow and also flourish with their young people living locally?

Any new development should include houses for rent by local people at an affordable price.

We know that holiday home lets and second home owners do bring cash into the local economy and we are dependent on tourism more and more, but in the late autumn, winter and early spring, these villages literally go into hibernation.

WHILE we are on the subject of housing, let me heap a little praise on myself.

As the Beadnell harbour development row seems to have reached a solution, I made a prediction. It was not hard to do so.

The row that had been going on between Beadnell Fishermen’s association and the Save Beadnell campaign had generated more long letters in the Gazette than any issue I can remember in recent years.

I said that when the development decision was taken, this story would run and run and that the letter writers would not give up.

A look at last week’s Gazette letter’s page proved me right.

This, if I understand it correctly, is about the development of three houses. Just think, if it had been for a large development or an incinerator, how much more we would have to endure the Beadnell letter writers.

I make other prediction that this letter writing saga is going to run for ever and ever. This time, however, I hope I am wrong.

IT seems that many drivers have forgotten the Highway Code, given my experience on Saturday at the Willowburn Avenue mini-roundabout outside the sports and shopping area.

Three lines of traffic at a standstill and not one of the cars at the head of the queue knowing what to do.

The answer is simple. If that car is coming from you right have to give way.

A proper roundabout is needed.