Councillor responds to ‘pig farm’ accusations

I FEEL I must respond through your column following the letter in the Gazette (July 7) regarding pigs being kept at the entrance to Rothbury, so that we can avoid any further inaccuracies or misconceptions.

I do not have any problem with farm animals regardless of where they are kept, be it at the entrance to Rothbury or if my neighbours suddenly decide they wish to rear some. We live in the countryside after all – if you do not like farm animals, then my suggestion would be to move!

I have visited pig farms on a number of occasions and I have no problems with them. In my opinion, British pig farms appear to be of a better standard than some of our European counterparts.

I referred to the site at the entrance to the village as a mini-farm – perhaps a more apt word would have been smallholding.

However, the crux of the matter is that I have received four complaints from members of the public regarding this smallholding at the entrance to the village.

They stated that they feel it is inappropriate to have these animals at the village entrance and the smell in warm weather is unpleasant.

My response to them was that animals such as pigs and chickens come as part of living in the countryside and because we have very few warm days, it should not cause that much of a problem.

In other words, I have taken the view not to pursue this matter despite receiving complaints. I did, however, pursue the 12 complaints that have been made to me, along with many other residents complaining in passing, regarding the caravan that had appeared at the entrance to the village.

The Council Enforcement Officer has issued a notice for the caravan to be removed and as a result, it has been moved.

I have known from the outset that the smallholding and caravan are under separate ownership and I have never stated at any point that I thought they were owned by the same person.

The grass at the junction, I am led to believe, is given four cuts a year by Northumberland County Council Highways Department, but it is certainly something we can look at improving to make it more attractive to visitors.

You are also quite right, I do have better things to be doing and that is one of the reasons I chose not to pursue this matter.

On a final note, I would like to point out that Mr Murray did contact me regarding an apology.

He chose to approach me when I was out socially with friends.

He did not ask for an apology but told me that I would be writing him an apology and placing it in the Gazette the following week.

However, I made it clear I felt I had not given the impression he was the owner of the caravan and he would not be receiving one given the aggressive manner in which he had approached and spoken to me.

Coun Steven Bridgett,