Wooler Parish Council round-up: Vandalism, planning, play areas and Sunday market

The toilets at Wooler bus station.
The toilets at Wooler bus station.

The mobile CCTV system is to be requested again by the council following a spate of vandalism at the bus-station toilets.

The chairman, Coun Mark Mather, reported that there had been ‘a lot of damage’ over the Christmas period and the parish council was waiting for the county council to make repairs.

He added that there had been a 999-call to the area on Saturday night with police attending and speaking to a number of youths, but no extra damage was identified.

Coun Shirley Wright asked about the camera there and Coun Mather explained that it had only been there for a three-month period, as part of the county council’s scheme to deploy mobile cameras to problem hot-spots.

“It worked,” said Coun Mather. “It turned the problem off overnight, but it’s getting back up again now. I don’t know if they have realised the camera’s gone.”

Members agreed to request the camera again.

• A public surgery held by the parish council was hailed a great success by the chairman.

Coun Mather reported that 10 parishioners had turned up to share views and raise a range of issues at the drop-in event, adding that he felt the parish should do it annually.

The event had been planned to gauge views on the proposed precept rise for 2018/19, but only one of the residents who attended spoke about this; he was happy about the increase as he said he had noticed improvements in Wooler and would be happy for it to rise again.

Other issues raised were areas that needed repair or work, including potholed roads, issues with the bus service, a request for a crossing on the A697 at the bottom of the Peth and a call for the parish council’s snow team to be relaunched.

• The parish council may have to admit defeat in its effort to get road improvements linked to an outline bid for up to 36 homes north of High Fair.

Highways safety was a key concern when the council first heard the plans in 2013 and when amended in 2015, as the only route into the site is via Ramsey’s Lane and Common Road, and was very disappointed last month to note the scheme had been approved.

A meeting with a planning officer had simply confirmed that the increased traffic from the development was not sufficient to require the applicant to upgrade the road.

Coun Mather said: “I said that he was looking at it as a planning officer whereas we know it’s a road where there are already problems. They have not looked at the location, just the rule-book.”

• Councillors voted by three to two not to support a bid for a monthly Sunday market to be held in the bus station.

Members were all keen for the event, likely to be eight months of the year, to take place, but a majority felt that the best venue would be the Cheviot Centre car park so as to avoid disruption to buses or coaches, the two disabled bays and the electric car charging point.

But others felt that these were minor issues that could easily be overcome for the eight days of the year the market would be on and that it would be a brilliant way of bringing in business.

• Coun Shirley Wright is keen to introduce play equipment for disabled children in Wooler and wants a sub-committee to be formed to look at bids for funding. “I feel very strongly about this,” she said. “I just feel the equipment should be inclusive for all children.”

• Police reported that there had been four recorded crimes since the previous parish-council meeting. There had been a ‘heated verbal exchange’, a car’s windscreen wiper had been damaged, crops had been damaged, likely by a poacher, and a racial slur was written on a bench.

• Organised by a small steering group of local people and with Alnwick Lions as providers of funds, insurance and help, more than 70 people attended the Glendale Community Christmas Day, with 50 sitting down to lunch. Coun Wright said the day was excellent.

• The warnings about sheep worrying on Weetwood Moor and the potential for farmers to shoot dogs off leads among livestock had worried a resident who wrote to the parish council seeking assurances. It was agreed to reply to say it was not a council issue and to contact police.

• It was agreed that the parish council will continue to get Northumberland County Council to carry out the weekly play-park inspections in 2018-19. Currently, repairs are needed to the rubber covering on the zipwire chain at Scott’s Park and the swings at Bryson’s Park.