Wooler Parish Council is set to sign a 50-year lease to create a community facility on the former school farm field.
The council has been working on the proposals for some time, but now it looks as though the efforts, for a small strip of land and a building next to the Glendale Middle School fields, are to pay off.
At Monday night’s parish-council meeting, members were told that the county council’s community asset team is overwhelmingly in favour of offering a long-term lease, meaning the ball is in the parish council’s court as it can be sorted quickly.
Coun Mark Mather said it was ‘all looking very positive’, but added: “There’s going to be a lot of work and fund-raising.”
The idea was born when the Scouts were looking for a new home and they are part the plans moving forward, as is the school for its forest school and its youth group.
Other options include allotments, polytunnels for gardening schemes and the Men in the Shed project.
• Coun Mark Mather has been elected as the new chairman of Wooler Parish Council, while Coun Kevan Curry was elected as vice-chairman.
In his annual report, retiring chairman, Coun Robert Donkin, it had been a year ‘of ups and downs, but including some major projects, many of which the parish council was proud to be a part of’.
These included the Wooler neighbourhood plan, the school farm field project, the Haugh Head ford, the upgrade of the High Street and the town twinning with Broughshane in Northern Ireland, the latter of which had already led to ‘many positive ideas and sharing opportunities’.
Coun Mather, the previous vice-chairman, thanked Coun Donkin for all his time and effort as chairman, adding: “There’s a lot done behind the scenes.”
• The parish council wants to bring to an end an ongoing land-ownership issue and members have agreed to pay half the costs.
A dispute over the legal owners of a strip of land next to Wooler Bowling Club led to the parish council agreeing to relinquish its claim and allow the club to keep the land.
A solicitor was instructed by the council to ensure the transfer was completed properly.
A request to the bowling club to pay the council’s costs was refused so the council offered to split the bill – £300 plus VAT – 50/50, which the club is minded to accept.
Coun Rosanna Reed said: “We have to have it done legally.”
Coun Kevan Curry added: “We need to get it done and put to bed.”
• The parish council is to hold out for its full fee from Slater’s Funfair, following its use of Scott’s Park again during the Easter holiday period.
A fee of £400 was agreed in advance for two weekends, but the fair decided to go elsewhere on one of the weekends and therefore only wants to pay £200.
However, Coun Rosanna Reed said: “We agreed that fee and it wasn’t as if we did anything to prevent them from coming.”
Coun Anthony Murray added: “The choice was not ours how long they were there. If that’s what they agreed, that’s what they should pay.”
• Members are to repaint the bus-station toilets to spruce them up, but this will wait until after the county council has levelled the floor and installed shelves in the storeroom. A quote of £230 to level and replace the paving slabs at Scott’s Park toilets was agreed.
• Councillors are keen on the idea of paying a seasonal or part-time worker to ‘make Wooler look as good as it can’. The member of staff would be employed via the county council, but would carry out whatever jobs the parish council wanted doing, at a cost of £12 per hour.
• Members agreed that the parish council should have its own website and are to sign up for one on the NALC portal. The council does have a page hosted on the Wooler community website, but the clerk said it was not possible to upload all of the council’s documents.
• Wooler, which was one of the few parish councils in north Northumberland to require a contested vote, now has four new members: Caroline Cumming, Catherine Dunn, Malcolm Pringle and Rachel Sinton. Alfreda Hindmarsh and Michael Aitchison stood down before the election.
• A bid to the community fund linked to the Barmoor windfarm, near Lowick, for £10,000 for new metal fencing at Scott’s Park was unsuccessful. The current wooden fence requires constant repairs with other options to fund the £11,000 project being a loan and using reserves.