Councillors in Wooler are to consider whether to employ a seasonal worker who is ‘flexible to the needs of the parish’ under a new scheme by the county council.
Bob Hodgson, Northumberland County Council’s (NCC) north area manager for neighbourhood services, was at Monday’s meeting to discuss Wooler taking someone on, as has been done in other towns and parishes, such as Berwick.
“It’s not to make up for a drop-off from NCC, it’s to enhance what we do and to have someone local,” he said. “We manage the risk and provide the training. We welcome the chance to work with you and mould this person into what you want them to do.”
He confirmed that this person – ‘it’s always beneficial if it’s someone local’ – could take on some of the responsibilities the parish council already pays for, such as play-park inspections, to offset some of the costs.
Coun Anthony Murray said: “I think one of the great stumbling blocks as far as we are concerned is how much it’s going to cost us.”
Mr Hodgson said: “ We need to set out a list of what you want doing and then work out the costs from there.”
Coun Mark Mather said: “It would be fantastic, but the cost is a huge issue. If we could do one day a week, I think that would be enough.”
Coun Alfreda Hindmarsh suggested sharing the work with other small, local parishes such as Chatton and Milfield.
• There seems to be no clear way forward to deal with a run-down house in Wooler as different county-council departments report that they can do no more.
Members discussed the issue of 5 The Peth, which has holes in the roof and trees growing through it, at last month’s meeting.
It has already sparked a section of footpath to be diverted onto the road so that nothing can fall onto passing pedestrians.
On Monday, councillors heard that a planning enforcement case has been opened and officer Liz O’Brien is looking at the issue.
However, members are not sure that this will lead to a satisfactory outcome.
The meeting also heard that unless a building is about to collapse, it is not ‘dilapidated’ and therefore the council won’t intervene.
The public-protection team has already said that it has done all it can within its remit.
Chairman, Coun Robert Donkin, said: “It’s a stalemate because they won’t touch it.”
• Councillors are hoping to make progress on the long-running issue of the state of a small, unadopted road.
It has been suggested that it will cost around £22,000 to repair the road, which leads to Glendale Nurseries garden centre and Carrs Billington, and the county council is prepared to pay half.
Parish councillors are keen to see if the three businesses which have an interest in the road – the two mentioned above and the Riverside Caravan Park, whose bar is located just off the road – would be willing to contribute towards the costs.
Initial discussions have proved promising.
• Coun Mark Mather, who has been involved in setting up a Facebook page for Wooler Parish Council, raised concerns about another councillor’s Facebook page.
Coun Ian Fleming has a Facebook page – Ian Fleming, Parish Councillor for Wooler – and other members were worried that some members of the public were assuming that this was an official page.
Coun Mather said that he thought the idea was to have one Facebook page for the parish council, but Coun Fleming said: “You can’t make a decision as to what I put on my Facebook page.”
He did agree to make it clear that they were his own views and not those of the council.
• No police officer was able to attend the meeting, but the clerk received an update which provided brief details of a burglary which is still under investigation, thefts by travelling criminals who have been identified but not apprehended and a mobile phone being stolen.
• Members agreed that the three cherry trees which are to be moved from the Market Place to accommodate the new fountain monument should be replanted on South Road.
• The new homes being built at Horsdonside should be complete by late August.