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Positives in the parish, but county concerns

Seahouses Sports and Community Centre, which now acts as a hub for the village, is 'certainly proving to be a valuable asset and central amenity'.
Seahouses Sports and Community Centre, which now acts as a hub for the village, is 'certainly proving to be a valuable asset and central amenity'.

The chairman of the parish council highlighted a number of developments in Seahouses – positive and negative – as he delivered his annual report.

At the annual meeting of North Sunderland Parish Council this month, Coun Geoffrey Stewart once again reflected on the achievements and plans of the parish council as well as the wider community.

Potential school reorganisation has caused 'a significant amount of feeling within the parish'.

Potential school reorganisation has caused 'a significant amount of feeling within the parish'.

In terms of the work the parish council has or is carrying out, he highlighted the cemetery extension, which was this year completed with landscaping work which has included improving the land itself, installing paths and moving the soil bunker to a new position where it will be screened with shrubs.

He also talked about the neighbourhood plan being developed in partnership with Bamburgh and Beadnell, which has meant ‘the unity between our three parishes is becoming more integrated, cohesive and effective in raising awareness of our unique position within the coastal communities’.

“This strategy, which aims to be in place in the near future, looks forward to what may be the most proactive process in our history in achieving the best way forward for our linked communities,” he added.

Also looking ahead, Coun Stewart mentioned plans for a parish-council website.

He said: “The need for a modern approach to publicise parish-council information and activities has been recognised for some time; therefore, steps are in progress to produce this within 2015.”

Within the wider community, one of the issues which ‘has this past year generated a significant amount of feeling within our parish’ was the proposals regarding school structure, which could see the current three-tier system replaced with a two-tier system – and the loss of Seahouses Middle School.

Coun Stewart said: “Many have voiced their very real concerns regarding the detrimental effect this may have on our children and the wider community, however, to date, there has no decisive response to our protests.”

In terms of the parish council’s relationship with Northumberland County Council (NCC), Coun Stewart continues to raise two main concerns – roads and the links between parishes and the unitary authority.

He said: “I continue to flag up the ongoing demand that significant and dangerous sections of the all-important access streets to the local schools, community centres and health centre within our villages are still requiring repairs, especially now there is a predominance of disability vehicles used by our aging population allowing otherwise housebound residents to extend their independence.

“Not to be overlooked are also the main rural artery routes in regular use by our rural community to access the A1.

“I continue to reflect that the statements I have made for the past six years are still as relevant today whereby our experience of the current NCC ‘countywide’ system continues to bring local parish councils significant and frustrating challenges both in the lack of clear, effective lines of communication which we continue to encounter and also the insidious way the county council is determined to shift more and more responsibility and costs onto parish councils.”

Coun Stewart thanked all the parish councillors and the clerk for their efforts.