Rothbury Parish Council round-up: Litter, planning and financial regulations

A seat along the riverside in Rothbury.
A seat along the riverside in Rothbury.

A resident has raised concerns about litter being thrown under the bridge in Rothbury by people hanging out at the nearby bench.

There used to be a bin near the seat, but it was removed while the bridge was being repaired. However, members were also concerned that the bench was being damaged by youths on bikes and there was a fear that a replacement bin could be damaged too.

Coun John Devlin said: “If we are worried about the state of the seat, do we want to encourage them to gather there? Is it the right position for a seat?”

But Coun Caroline Dawson said: “It’s a traditional position for a seat. There’s not been any problems until this group of youths started using their bikes there in the past couple of years.”

• A crab apple tree on the site of controversial plans for new homes to the north-west of Rothbury will be protected, it has been confirmed.

An application for a tree preservation order for the specimen on Hillside Road West was made by some of those concerned by the bid by the Northumberland Estates for nine new homes there.

And at last Wednesday’s parish-council meeting, members heard that the order has now been confirmed.

The planning application went before the county council’s planning committee last month and was deferred for members to go on a site visit and is back before councillors tomorrow.

Meanwhile, concerns have been raised about the state of a tree near to Orchard House. Further investigations will require the use of a machine which the council hopes it can borrow from Cragside.

• Rothbury Parish Council has agreed new standing orders, financial regulations and a scheme of delegation. It follows work by Coun John Devlin, chairman of the finance and policy committee, to produce a draft based on the recommended documents from NALC (National Association of Local Councils). Coun Jeff Reynalds said: “Given that we seem to be keeping the peculiar committee system, it all seems to be in order.” Coun John Rutherford added: “I couldn’t see any issues, it seems as straightforward as we can make it for now.”

• Members took a first look at a draft budget for 2017/18 ahead of a more detailed discussion at next month’s meeting. The November review of income and expenditure showed that the only real budget overspend was legal fees, which has now reached £18,000.

• The council will need a new internal auditor from 2018 as the current one has agreed to do just one more year. Coun John Devlin asked whether the role had now become so onerous as to require a professional rather than a volunteer, perhaps shared with other parishes.

• Rothbury Parish Council has been given a £3,400 grant from Locality to support the production of the village’s neighbourhood plan. The grant will be primarily used to fund some professional consultancy support to take the plan forward.

• Councillors are still none the wiser as to who owns the area of waste land behind the telephone exchange in Rothbury. BT has not yet responded to a letter from the clerk, while Northumberland County Council has already said it does not own that site.

• Donation requests were received from the AgeUK Northumberland and the Great North Air Ambulance. The parish council has already given £250 to the air ambulance this calendar year and it was agreed to wait until the end of the financial year to decide on further gifts.