Villagers dig in to repair roads

Sir Alan Beith with Shilbottle residents who filled in potholes as part of a community-led effort.
Sir Alan Beith with Shilbottle residents who filled in potholes as part of a community-led effort.

CAN-do residents in a former pit village have put their backs into repairing its roads – because no-one else will.

People at Shilbottle Grange decided to break out the shovels and carry out essential repairs on the unadopted routes, transforming the streets where they live.

Because the lanes were sold into private ownership by the National Coal Board when the village’s famous colliery closed in 1982, the county council has been reluctant to take over their maintenance, leaving traffic and the elements to take their toll.

At the end of January, over 100 residents attended a meeting in the village hall, organised by MP Sir Alan Beith, to look at the options for road repairs. Less than eight weeks later, a residents’ association had been formed, materials and equipment organised, and around 40 people spent the day working to mend the worst potholes.

Northumberland County Council donated 200 tonnes of road planings – waste material from roadworks – which has been used to fill the potholes and build up the edges of the roads which had crumbled away.

Chairman of the association, Joanne Nelson, said: “This has been a fantastic community effort which has greatly improved the place where we live. Special thanks to Simon Atkinson and Ian Hornsby for their invaluable support on the day, MKM for contributing equipment and to Sir Alan Beith and county council staff who have positively supported our community endeavour.

“While there is still work we would like to do, the effort shown here reflects great community spirit and a willingness to work together to look after this unique place where we live.”

Sir Alan added: “I was very impressed with the progress the residents were making. This has been a really rewarding case for me and my staff as we have helped the residents take action to improve their community.”