North Sunderland Parish Council: Laundry, parking and Dementia Friends

Main Street in Seahouses.
Main Street in Seahouses.

Councillors in Seahouses have said that there is nothing more they can do about the closure of the laundry set up by the village’s development trust.

At last month’s meeting of North Sunderland Parish Council, members heard that The Washing Line, which was set up under one of Seahouses Development Trust’s trading arms, was closing.

The social enterprise, originally set up for commercial users, had continued to operate in the resource centre after it was sold to the county council, but the local authority has now put it up for sale.

The development trust agreed to close the business, ‘because it wasn’t viable’, it was reported.

However, a number of people had turned up to the meeting to express their concerns, with Cleo Gregory, who managed the business, saying it was profitable and questions were raised about the incorporation of a new business, Seahouses Luxury Linen Hire Limited, with Seahouses Hub as its base and some of the trust’s directors as its directors.

Coun Sylvia Hillan, the parish council’s representative on the trust, agreed to raise the issues and report back to Monday’s meeting.

“Everything has been done legally and as it should have been,” she said, adding that the business had made profit since 2011, but had never paid rent and was also paying back start-up loans.

Seahouses Luxury Linen Hire has been set up as an agent for a third-party company and the three directors are unpaid. Profits go into the trust.

Cleo said Coun Hillan’s report was very similar to a statement put out by the trust on the matter, of which she ‘could challenge lots of it’.

“I do think it bears further investigation,” she added. “I know how it was working and I don’t understand how it’s not viable.”

But Coun David Donaldson said: “I know you are getting it off your chest, but there’s nothing the parish council can do.”

• Councillors in Seahouses learned about the Dementia Friends scheme and how the village could become a dementia-friendly community.

The guest speaker at Monday night’s meeting of North Sunderland Parish Council was Helen Williams, services manager for the Alzheimer’s Society in Northumberland.

The charity’s initiative, which is nationwide, aims to change the way people think, act and talk about dementia.

Helen provided members with a brief run-through of the key messages and what actions could be taken to be more dementia-friendly, but also said that sessions could be held for councillors, the public and businesses if the village wanted to sign up.

“We know people choose to go to places which are more dementia-friendly and Seahouses is a tourist area,” she said.

She also talked about what else the charity does in the county, where it receives no funding from the local authority or the health services and relies solely on fund-raising.

There are dementia advisers covering from the south-east of the county up to Warkworth and across to Hexham and there are also singing sessions which are held in Alnwick, Blyth and Hexham.

• The parish council is waiting for the county council to send amended proposals for a new parking regime on Main Street. At the December meeting, members heard that the local authority had proposed introducing a no parking at any time zone, with a 25-metre loading bay. The amended scheme is to include short-stay parking bays on one side of the street.

• Councillors are adamant that they do not want speed strips similar to those in Bamburgh outside the school in Seahouses. County councillor Guy Renner-Thompson is of the same view and reported that the 20mph zone is set to be installed there shortly.

• Coun Renner-Thompson also told members that he had objected to plans for a dive trail to the Gun Rock at the Farne Islands, via his role on the Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NIFCA), as it would impact on boats in the area. He reported that the consultation had solely consisted of a sheet of paper attached to a lamp-post in the harbour.

• Members are worried about the proposed closure of the A1 between Wandylaw and Adderstone in March due to the extra traffic which will be coming through the village, including HGVs.

• Coun Alan Trotter said that the Seahouses festive lights team is to become a formally constituted group to aid its fund-raising efforts. Coun David Donaldson reiterated his praise for the team’s efforts over the festive period.