Rothbury Parish Council round-up

Northumberland Gazette latest
Northumberland Gazette latest

An initiative to give an ‘eyesore’ shelter a facelift is to be discussed further.

The parish council had received a request to remove the youth shelter in the village due to it not being used for its purpose and because of its unkempt appearance.

However, Coun Steven Bridgett is keen to spruce-up the shelter, with the help of young people.

He said: “I am in two minds with this one, but I have received an offer from someone who is willing to supply the paint, brushes, etc, to repaint it.

“We have some talented artists in the village and perhaps – subject to approval from the conservation officer – we could approach these individuals to see if they could do some sessions with the young people to repaint it and make it their own.

“One suggestion on social media was that if the youngsters contribute to the shelter, then they will respect it more.

“I am willing to give it one more try. The shelter is used by young people. There is a small minority of people that are expressing themselves in certain ways, but maybe it is about giving them a different outlet.

“If it doesn’t work then I will hold my hands up and we will look at other options.”

Coun Bridgett asked members if they would be willing to support a scheme financially which would allow artists to work with the youngsters. The parish council agreed to put it on next month’s agenda.

○ Concerns have been raised about steps at the bottom of Gravelly Bank and Haw Hill.

The meeting also heard that the route in front of the council depot is in a desperate state.

Councillors branded all three ‘a hazard to public safety’ and called for action.

Members said that the steps at the bottom of Haw Hill were uneven and it ‘would only be a matter of time before somebody gets injured’.

Coun Steven Bridgett said he will speak to a county-council officer about the issues and see if a visit can be arranged for the problem areas to be inspected.

○ Coun Steven Bridgett said the majority of residents he has spoken to are in favour of the relocation of the village’s recycling bins.

They were moved from the Haugh car park to Beggars Rigg towards the end of last year, prompting disagreement between members about their new location.

At last week’s meeting, Coun Bridgett said: “The bins were moved to the new location after the flood in November.

“Because of where the bins were at the Haugh car park, rubbish spewed into the River Coquet.

“We have been told by the Environment Agency that we need to consider the position of these bins.

“The majority of residents I have spoken to are in favour of keeping them up there.”

Coun Debbie Noble agreed with the relocation. She said: “People can see the mess that has been left in the past after the floods; there are still tatty garments on trees along the river. I think it would be impractical to move them back to where they were.”

○ Coun Jeff Reynalds asked members if the village’s public toilets could be opened on Christmas bank holidays.

He said: “Over Christmas, tourists were wandering about, but our public toilets were locked.

“Could we look at that and even pay to open them, because we get so many visitors at Christmas when it is a nice day.”

But Coun Debbie Noble said it could be a costly venture for a limited period of time, so suggested asking traders if they would let people use their loos and then put a notice on the toilets to list participating businesses.

○ Different objectives have been put forward to help deliver the area’s neighbourhood plan. As part of this, two consultation events will be held next month. Both will take place on Saturday, March 11, with the first session taking place in Thropton in the morning, followed by an afternoon session in Rothbury.

○ Members raised no objections to a planning application to turn the village’s doctors’ surgery, on Market Place, into a house, after the scheme was lodged with the county council. The Rothbury Practice is proposing to relocate to Rothbury Community Hospital.

○ Work to repair the churchyard wall at Rothbury All Saints – which could include an archaeological dig – has been discussed, although not all members are satisfied with what is being proposed.

Following a site visit with assistant county archaeologist Nick Best, Coun Jeff Reynalds said: “The project to repair the churchyard wall will need to have an archaeologist with a watching brief as it will give an important opportunity to look for medieval artefacts in the ground.

“It will also provide a chance to carry out a small graveyard survey in the area disturbed of what life was like in the 1700s to early 1800s.

“A minimum charge is likely to be £200 each day.

“Any lab work and analysis for the graveyard survey would be a significant additional expense.

“A detailed archaeological report would be required at the end of the project.

“Before any repair work starts, the appointed archaeologist will dig two small trenches in the churchyard and prepare a short report.

“This is to test whether the ground here could hold undisturbed medieval finds and find out exactly how the wall is constructed.

“It was suggested that local schools might be interested to be involved in the project.

“Any human bones found would be removed for examination, recorded and buried.

“It was suggested that we use smaller and local archaeological practises.”

However, some members weren’t convinced.

Coun Steven Bridgett said: “I would suggest that we find out what our statutory rights are here. I believe we will have statutory rights, because of where the work is taking place, but I’m not convinced that this includes determining what the health was of Coquetdale residents from 300 years ago.

“It sounds like the county’s archeological team are using this as an opportunity to have this done without it costing them anything. It sounds like a wishlist to me.”

Coun Debbie Noble said that it was important to see what the parish council is responsible for, ‘rather than carrying out somebody else’s fancies’.

It was also suggested that Coquetdale Community Archaeology (CCA) group be contacted about doing some of the work.

Members agreed that quotes will be sought, the council will follow up on the statutory rights and CCA will be contacted.