The Northumberland Gazette continues its look back at the big stories of 2011
ALNWICK traders prepared to fight for a fairer parking system after county council chiefs agreed to adopt a new strategy behind closed doors.
• A war of words erupted over signs on Alnwick’s new Youth Hostel as planners rejected them for being aluminium despite the same materials being used on the council’s own town centre premises.
• Doddington Dairy won a top national trophy for its Berwick Edge Cheese at the Specialist Cheesemakers’ Association awards.
• Rothbury villagers said they wanted to move on and forget about Raoul Moat on the first anniversary of his death after one of Britain’s biggest manhunts.
• Planning rules were relaxed to allow a £4million hotel development on the outskirts of Alnwick to go ahead. Northumberland County Council’s north area planning committee waived a £120,000 contribution to the town, allowing Northumberland Estates’ hotel to be built.
• A contentious housing plan for three new cottages and an extension at Cliff Cottage in Amble was given the go-ahead on appeal.
• Villagers in Rothbury remembered former councillor Tony Sandford who died after a series of strokes.
• Pressure was mounted on council chiefs to make a clear commitment for the rebuilding of Alnwick’s Duchess’s High School as major Government funding was pledged.
• Seahouses lifeboat boss Ian Clayton pushed the county council to end the problem of cars getting stranded on Holy Island Causeway.
• The Pride of Northumberland Awards were launched, with the Child of Courage trophy named in honour of Matthew Phillips who died in February.
• The Jam Jar Army hit its first milestone of £1,000.
• Northumberland County Council was accused of hypocrisy after threatening to take Glanton Show committee to court for its ‘dangerous sign’.
• Olympic organisers were accused of keeping local leaders out of the loop by discussing plans for north Northumberland’s 2012 celebrations behind closed doors.
• The final bell rang at James Calvert Spence College – Hadston Road as the school was merged with its South Avenue counterpart because of falling roll numbers.
• Miss Northumberland, Laura Hickey, missed out on the Miss England crown.
• The Duchess of Northumberland launched the second book in her Poison Diaries trilogy.
• Theatre manager Vince Hope left Alnwick Playhouse and Joanne Potts took over the helm with big plans for the venue.
THE Gazette revealed that the county council’s own signs were bigger than the allowed limit as the signs saga continued.
• Belford Village Development Trust was given a stay of execution after a last-ditch attempt to recruit new trustees.
• A crash wreaked havoc in Alnwick Market Place when a car careered into stalls during the Alnwick International Music Festival. Fortunately no one was seriously injured as performances had been moved to Alnwick Playhouse because of bad weather. The crash sparked a fierce debate over whether vehicles should be banned from the square.
• A windfarm developer described Winter’s Gibbet as a Victorian Disneyland as plans for a nine-turbine farm at Elsdon were revealed.
• Police targeted beach yobs who ripped up fencing and seats at north Northumberland beaches with a new operation.
• An Alnwick family branded treatment at Alnwick Infirmary a ‘disgrace’ when their 17-month-old son, Ryley, was turned away despite having blood pouring from his head.
• Rothbury Parish Council sought legal advice after allegations that it was operating illegally as members had apparently not signed declarations of office.
• Little Brandon Ballance from Amble jetted off to America after communities raised £17,000 to send him on the holiday of a lifetime, fulfilling his long-held wish of swimming with dolphins.
• Alnwick was voted the best market town in the country in BBC Countryfile Magazine’s inaugural awards.
• Alnwick stalwart and renowned physiotherapist Fred Dyson died after suffering heart problems.
• Two raiders who subjected a 53-year-old farmer to a vicious attack at his home were jailed for 12 and 15 years.
• Prolific Alnwick criminal Peter Pringle was given a five-year curfew as part of an Anti-Social Behaviour Order to stop him causing trouble in the town.
NORTHUMBRIA Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust announced that a new chemotherapy suite is to be based at Alnwick Infirmary after a new pharmacy opened up at Wansbeck General Hospital.
• A Hallowe’en festival for Alnwick was launched to bring the community together.
• An inquest into the death of gunman Raoul Moat who went on the run in Rothbury after shooting three people – killing one – opened at Newcastle Crown Court. Residents from the village gave evidence in the proceedings which lasted four weeks. Police negotiators told of their devastation that Moat died while marksmen said there was no alternative to firing their Tasers at him. However, they said the Tasers had no effect. Villagers were commended for their community spirit during the manhunt.
• As the inquest recorded a verdict of suicide at Moat’s inquest the Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation cleared police of any wrongdoing during the six-hour stand-off on the banks of the River Coquet in Rothbury.
• Vandals left a new skateboarding park in Amble strewn with litter and graffiti just weeks after it opened.
• Former district council leader Heather Cairns accused Northumberland County Council of bullying taxpayers into setting up direct debits to help the authority save money.
• Rothbury councillor Steven Bridgett slammed the Boundary Commission after it announced that his ward could be put into the Hexham constituency.
• Warkworth won the best large village category in the Northumbria in Bloom awards for the ninth year in a row. The village was also a finalist in the Britain in Bloom competition.
• Alnwick Community Development Trust was declared insolvent 11 years to the day after it was set up due to dried-up funding streams and an overspend on Alnwick Youth Hostel.
• Dad Rob Phillips paid a touching tribute to his son, Matthew, five, from Shilbottle, who died of a brain tumour in February, at the Pride of Northumberland awards as the child of courage gong was named after the brave youngster.
• A new wind turbine scheme was announced for Belford from the same company behind the Elsdon scheme, Air Farmers’ Limited.
• Father Des McGivern left his position at the helm of St Paul’s RC Church in Alnwick, which he had held for 11 years. He took over as parish priest at Seahouses and Holy Island.
• Jean-Christophe Novelli stole the show at Alnwick Food Festival. A record number of visitors were seen at the event which spanned three days. Jean-Christophe also donated £1,000 to the Jam Jar Army for HospiceCare North Northumberland after auctioning places at his cookery academy.
• A new funding bid was submitted by Warkworth Harbour Commissioners in an attempt to repair Amble’s flood-damaged harbour.
• The Gazette was told that windfarm plans for Northumberland are almost 50 years ahead of Government targets.
• It was announced that bomb disposal experts who scour Goswick Sands near Holy Island for unexploded ammunition are to be removed as part of a cost-cutting exercise at the Ministry of Defence.