Amble 'should not be moved'

A SEASIDE community which faces being shipped south under a planned council shake-up should remain firmly anchored in north Northumberland, district councillors have agreed.

At their monthly full Alnwick District Council meeting on Tuesday night, members of all political parties united in opposition to Amble being tied in with the south east of the county.

As part of the proposed new unitary authority structure, the seaside ward – a so-called "belonging community" – would instead become part of the new Urban Coastal Plain area committee, with the remainder of the existing Alnwick district staying part of the Rural Border Land.

But some parts of the coastal community are actually sited in Warkworth parish, which would remain within the Alnwick division.

Coun Jeff Watson, ward member for Amble West and Warkworth, said: "Alnwick District Council has worked hard with Amble over the years after the loss of its own local council. Part of Amble's postal town is within the parish of Warkworth and that presumably would remain with the Alnwick connection."

Amble's links to the coalfields were criticised by councillors who felt the connections were weak. Coun Audrey Jones, ward member for Amble central, said: "The concept of Amble ever being a mining town is untrue although miners did live there.

"Although coal was responsible for the growth of Amble it was because of its shipping and the only connection with the coalfields was the harbour, which is still called Warkworth Harbour."

Coun John Taylor added: "What is the justification for Amble becoming part of the coalfield community?

"It has been a desktop exercise, they have never asked the people.

"The stupidity of splitting up Amble town matters because of education, transport and all sorts of things."

The consultation process was deemed "seriously flawed" by other councillors who felt that residents in the Amble, Togston and Hauxley area should have been more involved in the process.

Coun Audrey Jones added: "At the very least a leaflet drop to every house in the area should and would have helped to highlight the issues and engage the people.

Coun Ian Hinson, ward member for Amble West, also expressed his concern over the lack of contact with local residents. This week, he was out canvassing local opinion.

Coun John Hedley said: "I feel as an individual that Amble would be better financially if it was part of Alnwick because the long-term investments could be better if the Amble community is in Alnwick."

If the split did occur, as part of the Amble West ward, Coquet High School would be in the Alnwick district.

Coun Elisabeth Haddow said that Amble is a very different community to others in the proposed south-east Northumberland area and supported the decision that Amble should be in the north Northumberland district.

But Coun Robert Arkless, ward member for Amble East said: "My own personal view is that there is a very good argument for Amble being linked with the rural coalfield.

"If I was voting on my own I would be happy to go with the rural coalfield, but I am not simply doing this as an individual. It is particularly clear that the public views are to go with the rural areas."

He added that Amble would be linked to the whole of rural north Northumberland and that it was a long way from Berwick.

He said: "We have to try to work together to build the new council in a way that works effectively."

Councillors voted unanimously to reject the county council's proposals to include Amble in the new Urban Coastal Plain area committee area.