Town Council Report Jan/Feb

Posted on 16th February 2011 | in Amble Town Council

Sadly after the news in my last council report that Northumberland Foods was now under new ownership  (Longbenton Foods) and most of the old staff were back in employment, there were problems and the factory was once more shut down in early December with its workers not paid and facing a very uncertain Christmas.

Things seemed to have sorted themselves out and staff were paid and told to re-start on the 4th of January.  However as I write this, there are reports that it is still closed, with little comment from the owners. I and the council are at a loss to understand exactly what the future holds, but we hope that by the time you read this the factory will be fully functioning and have a trouble free twelve months to get really going.

We need to attract firms with greater capacity for employment to ensure our people remain and prosper, and the town flourishes in the years ahead.
As chairman of the council I was joined by members and invited guests in a pre-Christmas reception. Despite the weather it was well supported with about forty people there, both professional and voluntary who give their time to the benefit of all in the town. My thanks to all those who support our community in any capacity. My grateful thanks to all my fellow councillors for their contributions to a splendid buffet, so that there was no cost to the rate-payers, and to Councillor Helen Lewis who co-ordinated it all.

Northumberland County Council have informed the town that as of April a lot of services which were provided by them in the past and paid for from your rates, will be either greatly reduced or cease altogether unless we are prepared to take them over.

These include bus shelters, town seats, commons and village greens, play areas, open spaces, public toilets, flower beds, grass cutting, litter collection, and signage.  
The council have been aware that some of these were going to happen, but would be phased in over two or three years after extensive consultation and assistance with administrative implications, such as health and safety insurance, equipment, procedures planning and training.

Your council has been trying for months to get some clearer idea of what was included, the service costs, what condition some are in and which belongs to the county council (such as town seats) and which belong to third parties.

Despite repeated correspondence, as of yet very little information has been forthcoming  except this latest communication sent with three months to go before hand over.   If we do not take on some of these services you may be aggrieved  when the service ceases.

However if you want a service to continue to be provided, the council and every one of you are in a no-win situation.  Either we refuse and the NCC charge Special Expenses or we do it and must add the cost to what we need to function. Whichever way, it’s going to cost you, the ratepayer, more. We would love to have your views on this very important matter.

We are experiencing yet another very cold winter after weather forecasters said we would be having a mild wet winter. The NCC staff has done a good job  round the main part of the town in keeping the town clear of snow under very difficult conditions. As fast as one lot of snow was cleared more soon followed.

One good thing that I became aware of was the very strong community spirt in the town, with people helping each other with snow clearing, and shopping, for the infirm and elderly people who could not get out. This is what makes Amble such a wonderful place to  live.

As the nights are now drawing out and hopefully we can look forward to warmer days I am reminded that councillor Craig Weir is still looking for people to join his small band of volunteers to make Amble in bloom a reality.

Leslie Bilboe
Chairman,  Amble Town Council

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