County council slammed
MEMBERS have criticised the county council which has still not provided any information regarding parish councils taking on local services for the next financial year.
Now, following contact by the clerk, the parish council has been invited to a meeting at County Hall on April 21.
Chairman Coun Joyce Robertson said: “They have moved the goalposts once again. Mr Reid and co. have decided they won’t come up and see parish councils or see groups of parish councils.”
Coun Robert Tait said that until details of costs, health and safety risk assessments and similar information are provided then parish councils cannot take decisions.
“How can we set a precept? It’s ridiculous,” he said. “We cannot make a decision until we have the information.”
Coun Robertson suggested investigating their own prices in the private sector so that they have something to compare when the county council gives its figures.
County Coun Anthony Murray said: “I think it’s completely irresponsible of the county council. The leader and deputy leader made the promise that they would come to every parish council.
“It’s wrong and I think it’s dreadful of the county council and I will certainly be in touch with them in the morning.”
He added that it was ludicrous to expect the parish council to all travel down for a meeting.
MEMBERS agreed that a meeting of the Glendale parishes could prove beneificial as the group would be able to attract guests from county council who may not otherwise come to speak to an individual parish council.
Previously some councillors had been concerned that the money needed to keep the group going outweighed any benefit, but it was thought that a meeting twice a year or once a quarter could be covered by a parish council clerk in turn.
County Coun Murray said; “When it comes to things like roads, when it comes to things like doctor’s surgeries, combined voices are a good thing.
“I just feel it’s much easier to get officers to come to talk to a group of parish councils than to talk to one parish council. If we have got a group it’s looking after their time better.”
Chairman Coun Robertson said: “If we can get back to bipartite meetings and a parish council taking their turn to host it using their clerk then the cost would be negligible.”
Coun Tait said: “I agree, and then there’s not just a clerk looking after the group of parish councils.”
Coun Murray added: “I think a Glendale group would be enough to draw the big guns.”
He also suggested that the Cheviot Centre would be the best place to hold the meetings rather than being hosted by a different parish in turn.
THE Glendale Gateway Trust has sounded out the parish council about its support for the future development of the Market Place.
Plans to improve the Market Place and reclaim the space for communal use were progressing with a steering group and some investment used to engage an artist before the current financial situation brought the project to a standstill.
Coun Tait, the Trust’s representative on Wooler Parish Council, said: “In the past they were going to rehash the Market Place but funding got tight just as it was going to go ahead.
“They want to continue over the coming years to make it more of a feature and to see if we would be happy to keep flagging it up with county.”
Coun Alfreda Hindmarsh said that she didn’t object to the plans but she did not know why money was spent on outside consultation when there were A-level Geography students in Alnwick and Berwick who could have been involved in the project.
Coun Tait said: “That’s all on the back burner and will probably never happen.
“But we do want to keep in partnership with the Gateway Trust because they have access for funding.”
All members voted in favour of continuing to look at and work towards a redevelopment of the Market Place.
Parish v forum
COUN Hindmarsh reported that negative comments about the parish council had been made by several of those attending the last meeting of the Glendale Community Forum.
She said: “They are not fit for inputting information was one of the comments made.
“They said the community forum was the main driver in the area and they had put together the town plan and not the parish council.
“I just felt that the parish council didn’t come well out of that meeting.”
Coun Rosanna Reed said: “I think it’s very unfair. You cannot make decisions without getting all the facts together because it affects the money of people in Wooler.”
Coun Robert Tait said: “I think it’s disappointing that the chairman of an unelected body is commenting like that.”
Coun Chrys Murphy said that it could be considered a cheap shot but that it was important to move forward and try to build bridges.
MEMBERS were sent a copy of a Glendale Gateway Trust letter regarding the Ferguson’s Yard supermarket plans so that both groups can ensure they are on the same page.
There was some discussion over connectivity between the site and the High Street, and the potential £20,000 to aid this that had been mentioned earlier on in the development of the plans.
Coun Tait suggested the money, if still on the table, should be used to build some type of gateway feature at the bottom of the Peth to get people up on to the High Street.
“We should put in that we want input into how that £20,000 is spent,” he added.
Coun Hindmarsh said that this route, while not ideal, would be better for disabled access.
Coun Murray also said that he thought it was likely that the Ferguson’s Yard plans would be on the agenda for the area planning committee north in April.
POLICE provided members with an update on crimes in the Wooler area since the last meeting, saying that four out of the six crimes were detected.
There were two thefts, a burglary , an assault and two drug offences.
PC Stuart Brimble, neighbourhood beat manager for Wooler, said that a successful drug warrant had been carried out “thanks to a good bit of intelligence from the public.”
He also confirmed a new police officer would be starting in Wooler in two weeks’ time.
COUN Robert Donkin highlighted that the fence in the skate park has still not been welded properly.
COUN Derek Armstrong confirmed that the problem with the lights in the Scott’s Park toilets had been sorted, and Coun Hindmarsh said the potholes in Glendale Road had also been repaired.
IT was clarified that the no dog signs are only for the children’s play park and the skate park, not the whole of Scott’s Park.
A RESIDENT had reported that part of the path along the riverbank was very untidy and it is to be cleared up.
COUN Hindmarsh reported that nothing had been done about the lampost just outside the car park at Padgepool Place.
THE spring judging of Wooler for Northumbria in Bloom will take place on Thursday, April 14.
THE next meeting will take place on Monday, April 18 at 7pm in the Cheviot Centre.