Amble Town Council, May meeting

EMPTY POOLS: A disappointed holidaymaker has called for Amble’s disused paddling pools to be refilled, branding the situation a ‘total disgrace’.

In a letter to the town council, Mrs J Hubbuck, from Winlaton, near Gateshead, said that her grandchildren were upset because they could not play in the water – like their parents had done years ago – as the facilities were dry.

She called on something to be done with the pools at the Paddlers, which is near Gordon Street and also has a children’s play park.

“My family have been coming to Amble for over 30 years. It is our favourite holiday place. We have a caravan on the Links Park,” she wrote.

“I am now bringing my nine grandchildren to Amble and telling them and showing them photos of the lovely time we used to have with their mums and dads at the pools. It was a perfect sun trap but now it is a total disgrace.

“My daughter’s twin boys were upset when we took them there.

“They wanted to sail their boats and splash about in the pools like their parents did.

“I know vandals are the cause of some of the mess but I hope in the near future these pools could be put back to the lovely way they used to be.

“I know this costs money but I am sure something could be done.”

But members said that there was health and safety issues, a cost factor and that it was a matter for Northumberland County Council as the authority was currently responsible for the site and the letter should be sent there.

Town and county councillor Robert Arckless, ward member for Amble, said: “Unfortunately, we have had endless discussions about this. They won’t be filled again. They won’t be used the way they used to be.”

And town council chairman Coun Leslie Bilboe said: “As much as I would like to see something done about it, it is not going to happen over night.”

But Coun Velda Nicholson said that the Paddlers was an important issue and pointed out that Morpeth has an open air paddling pool.

Meanwhile, safety concerns were raised about the play area at the Paddlers.

Coun Nicholson said that a climbing net wasn’t fastened properly onto a climbing frame and a little girl had nearly had an accident.

Coun Helen Lewis said the play area surface was covered in what looked like bits of tar and if a child fell over they would hurt themselves.

Coun Arckless said that repairs are being carried out to the safety surface of the play area, together with a tidy up, and that he had had confirmation that the lining in the old pools was to be removed.

NEW CHAPTER: A PROJECT to transform Amble library into a hub is moving forward.

In his monthly county councillor report to Amble Town Council, Coun Arckless, said: “Amble is now proposed as one of 10 libraries in the county hopefully to be upgraded as part of the front office project.

“Plans are being drawn up which will include other county services in the present library building.

“As part of a wider review of library provision a ‘sounding board’ is being established by the relevant Executive member ‘to discuss specific proposals for modernising the library service’.”

Coun Arckless, who is also chairman of the Alnwick Library consultative committee, said that costs would need to be taken into consideration, but it was nice to see some movement on the issue, even though it wasn’t at the speed that some would like.

County councillor Watson backed the idea of the library taking on more services but was angry at the time it has taken for progress to be made.

“I am totally in support. I have always been in support of making the library in Amble a hub,” he said.

But he added: “I am appalled at the length of time it has taken.

“We have been on that list for ages.”

Both councillors have said that they would support such a scheme through each of their county members’ small schemes allowance.

COUNCILLOR’S QUERY: The need for a by-election in Amble has been questioned.

Next Thursday, Liberal Democrat Kate Morrison, of Island View, and Conservative candidate Sam Palin, from Bisley Road, will battle it out for the one vacancy in Amble West ward.

But no candidates have been nominated for the two seats in Amble Central ward and there will be another election date and open nomination period.

And at last week’s town council meeting, Coun Jeff Watson, county ward member for Amble West with Warkworth, questioned the need for the contest, which would come at a ‘substantial cost’ financially.

He asked if it would be ‘possible’ and ‘sensible’ for the two Amble West candidates to fill two of the three positions on the council, instead of contesting a by-election for one seat, to save money.

However, Coun Arckless said that it was a legal requirement for the by-election to go ahead.

“It maybe sensible but it is not legal,” he said. “The legal requirement is that once a notice has been published and you have got nominations, you have to proceed on that basis. Unless one of the candidates withdraws, it has to go ahead and be a by-election.

“The problem is, with a by-election, the whole cost falls within the parish. It happened in Hauxley years ago when the by-election was bigger than the precept. You might think it is crazy but that is the law.”

CHECKING OUT: Discussions have taken place with Tesco to encourage the supermarket giant to co-operate with the community.

Coun Arckless met two senior members of staff from the company and emphasised how important it was to work with residents and traders, as well as managing the implementation of the development.

“I was reassured that Tesco realise how important this site is to our community,” he said.

He added: “Early priorities will be to work with residents and local traders. I stressed my view that the pedestrian link to Queen Street would be crucial and that there was an opportunity here to considerably improve the area.

“I suggested a number of ways that Tesco could get involved in community initiatives and specifically mentioned Pride in Amble.

“I also hope it would be possible to develop links with local schools.”

He said that Douglas Wilson, corporate regional affairs manager for Tesco, is willing to meet the town council in the very early stages of the development phase.

Earlier this year, a reserved matters application by Northumberland Estates and development partner Tesco for a new store in the town was passed by Northumberland County Council, after outline approval was granted in 2009.

PARENTAL SNUB: A kind-heared council gesture, to present a special gift to Royal wedding babies, has been snubbed by a resident who claimed it wasn’t worth it.

The disappointing response came after members agreed to purchase a commemorative coin to gift to any child born to an elector of Amble parish on the monumental day.

If none were born on April 29, then the first child born to an elector of the Parish after that day would receive the gift.

But nearly two months on, and the council is still searching.

Clerk Elaine Brown said: “It has been very difficult to get any information because all of the protection and confidentiality. We did put a piece in the Gazette but nobody has come forward. I did hear of somebody who did have a baby within the time frame who said ‘I am not bothering coming forward for that’.”

But Coun Lewis said she thought it was ‘unfortunate’ that the council hadn’t been able to make a presentation.

Anyone who meets the criteria should contact the clerk and will need to produce the child’s birth certificate.

Email, call 01665 714695 or send details to Elaine Brown, Amble Town Council, The Quayside, Harbour Road, Amble, Northumberland, NE65 0AP.

THE mayor of Amble has said he would like to see a path with wheelchair access from Amble to Hauxley, but admits it is a ‘pipedream’.

Coun Bilboe said he would like to see such a route from the town to join up the coastal path at Hauxley, as it would be a nice project and would make Amble more accessible.

He said: “It is a pipedream but I would like to see it in the future. It would be good for the town.”

IN BRIEF: Wheelchair access for part of the town is being looked into.

Coun Watson said: “We maybe seeing more wheelchair access in the Bisley Road area. We are having that investigated at the moment.”

COUN Watson said that his offer of £4,000 to Amble Development Trust, to help it with the money it needs to upgrade and refurbish the changing rooms at Amble Welfare, has been made in writing.

He has given the four-figure sum from his members’ small schemes allowance.

INITIAL discussions have taken place with the county council about the transfer of services.